AUTISM

AUTISM

July 13, 2012

X-ray glasses to help those with autism 'see' others' feelings?

Andrew Couts

We’ve all dreamt of having X-ray glasses to reveal to us things which we cannot see. But what if we had a device that could show us something deeper, some truth about the people we meet? That is now a reality, with a new kind of glasses that use real-time facial recognition technology to unmask a person’s true emotional state, reports Sally Adee in New Scientist. The implications of such a technology are profound, to say the least.

The special specs were developed by University of Cambridge, UK, researcher Rana el Kaliouby, who wanted to help autistic people by creating a way for them to read the emotional cues of the people they come in contact with each day in a way made impossible by their medical condition.

El Kaliouby sought the help of fellow Cambridge associate and autism expert Simon Baron-Cohen (yes, he’s Borat's cousin). The two identified six independent facial expressions that are used to evoke our range of emotions: thinking, agreeing, concentrating, interested, confused and disagreeing. The pair then hired actors to make the various expressions, which were then interpreted by volunteers who were asked to describe their meaning. The majority description was deemed the most accurate one.

The glasses, developed by MIT electrical engineer Rosalind Picard, use “a camera the size of a rice grain connected to a wire snaking down to a piece of dedicated computing machinery about the size of a deck of cards,” writes Adee. The camera watches 24 “feature points” on a person’s face, and inputs the data into a software, which interprets the movements and micro movements, and compares them against a database of... READ MORE >>

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