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Social x-ray glasses can decode emotions, make your blind dates less awkward

Amar Toor, @amartoo
July 12, 2011
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You may consider yourself a world-class liar, but a new pair of "social x-ray" glasses could soon expose you for the fraud you really are. Originally designed for people suffering from autism, these specs use a rice grain-sized camera to pick up on a person's 24 "feature points" -- facial expressions that convey feelings of confusion, agreement and concentration, among others. Once recognized, these signals are analyzed by software, compared against a database of known expressions and then relayed to users via an attached headphone. If their date starts to feel uncomfortable, a blinking red light lets them know that it's time to shut up. Rosalina Picard, an electrical engineer who developed the prototype with Rana el Kaliouby, acknowledged that her algorithm still needs some fine tuning, but told New Scientist that the glasses have already proved popular with autistic users, who often have difficulty deciphering others' body language. No word yet on when these social specs could hit the market, but they'll probably make us even more anti-social once they do.

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