Researchers from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a device that, they say, is capable of reading people’s emotions without the need for them to say or do anything. Technology such as this opens up a range of possible applications. The inventors have already expressed that they envision it being used in “smart homes,” where atmospheric conditions can adjust in response to how people are feeling.
The device, which is known as EQ-Radio, emits wireless signals that reflect off people’s bodies before being detected by sensors in order to record information about their breathing and heart rate. By breaking this data down using “beat-extractions algorithms” the EQ-Radio is able to analyse the small variations in the intervals between individual heartbeats.
The people behind the research say that this enables EQ-Radio to predict whether a person is feeling happy, sad, angry, or excited with an accuracy rate of 87%. In a new study, the researchers explain how they developed their algorithms by training EQ-Radio using volunteers as they watched video clips or listened to music that were designed to evoke particular emotions.
If sold commercially, the device could potentially be used by movie studios and advertising agencies to gather information about the audiences emotional response. Whereas if the EQ-Radio is used to design “smart homes” then it could use this information to control the lighting and temperature.
That’s not the only potential EQ-Radio has, as Dina Katabi, co-developer of the device, also envisions its success within the healthcare sector. Dina Katabi believes that EQ-Radio could pave the way for future technologies that could help to monitor and diagnose conditions such as depression and anxiety.