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'Wearable eyes' take all the work out of having emotions

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Ever seen one of those funny novelty spectacles with eyes drawn on them? Dr. Hirotaka Osawa from Tsukuba University in Japan has designed a high-tech version of those called AgencyGlass, and they have eyes that actually move. The digital eyes blink when you nod or shake your head, look up when you tilt your head down and (best of all) it stays open even while you doze off, all thanks to a gyroscope and an accelerometer that detects head movement. That's not all they can do, though -- the eyes also automatically look up when the system determines that a person is looking at you, as taken by the accompanying camera. In fact, Osawa designed the bizarre smartglasses for that purpose: to make you look friendlier and less socially awkward than you actually are.

Osawa apparently thought of creating AgencyGlass to take the weight of emotional labor (or emotions expected of some professionals like doctors and wait staff) off people's shoulders. He believes the device could alleviate some of the stress these people feel when they're expected to behave a particular way. The glasses, however, could also be an effective companion for autistic individuals and others with similar conditions that affect social skills. While Osawa seems to be fully aware of how kooky the wearable eyes look (just watch his tongue-in-cheek demo video below), that isn't stopping him from exploring emotional cybernetics further. His next project is even something very similar and possibly ten times creepier: a wearable smile to turn your frowns upside down.

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