Emotions can be detected remotely using a device that emits wireless signals to help it measure heartbeat and breathing, say researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
The new device, named “EQ-Radio,” is 87 percent accurate at detecting whether a person is excited, happy, angry or sad—all without on-body sensors or facial-recognition software.
“We picture EQ-Radio being used in entertainment, consumer behavior, and healthcare,” says the study’s lead researcher, Mingmin Zhao. “For example,” says Zhao, a graduate student, “smart homes could use information about your emotions to adjust the music or even suggest that you get some fresh air if you’ve been sad for a few days.” Zhao adds that remote emotion monitoring could eventually be used to diagnose or track conditions like depression and anxiety.”
Zhao and study co-authors Dina Katabi and Fadel Adib will present their work in October at the Association of Computing Machinery’s International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (MobiCom) in New York.
Existing technologies for detecting emotion require on-body sensors or audiovisual cues, but there are downsides to both these methods. For example, on-body sensors such as chest bands and ECG monitors are inconvenient to wear and become less accurate if they shift position over time. Systems that rely on audiovisual cues require people to face cameras, and can miss subtle facial expressions.