Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Baby Tell Me How You Feel"

Autism is a neurological disorder, often diagnosed in young children. The cause of this affliction remains a mystery, and statistics show the number of cases is increasing. In fact, Austism occurs in 1 out of every 250 births in this country.

One problem with Autistic children is the inability to relate to other people. They aren't able to recognize certain facial expressions or even begin to understand another person's emotions. Researchers at MIT have been working on a solution for this:

The Emotion Dectector.

So how does this thing work?

A camera on a pair of glasses is hooked up to a handheld computer which is able to decipher the facial expressions of another person. The key to the Emotion Detector is the software running on the handheld. MIT researchers have created an image and emotion recognition program that decodes the images fed to it via the camera.

If you see a geek out there wearing camera glasses hooked up to a handheld computer, beware!

If computer believes a listener is bored or disinterested, the thing will vibrate and the camera wearing person can either change the subject, maybe tell some jokes, or run away in total embarassment.

This is a huge step is emotion recognition software, as prior technology could only detect very basic emotions such as anger, happiness, sadness, surprise, and disgust. This new software is capable of figuring out of a listener is thinking, agreeing, disagreeing, or totally bored.

So how was this software developed? The program's learning algorithm was primed by showing it 100 8 second clips of actors displaying certain emotions. It detected the movement of the eyebrows, eyes, mouth, nose - and also the head movements including nodding, shaking, or tilting. After "teaching" the software about what emotions looked like, researchers showed it a whole set of new footage, and the computer was accurate in detecting the correct emotion 90% of the time. Professor Simon Baron Cohen of the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge, said: "It is a very clever application as a prosthetic device."

Imagine the possibilities once this program is perfected. You could use such a "Boredom Barometer" in many situations:

* Business...During meetings you can set up webcams feeding the images of all the people in the boardroom. If somebody is doodling or text messaging their mistress, BEEP BEEP BEEP! Either the boss can try to make the meeting more engaging, or just fire the slacker's ass right there.

* Education...This would be a teacher's best friend. You set up the system in the classroom, and whenever a kid starts to dose off or write love notes to his girlfriend's best friend, BEEP BEEP BEEP! The teacher can take appropriate action. She can either make her lessons more interactive and interesting, or she can snag that love note and read it in front of the entire class.

* Dating...The Boredom Barometer would be heaven-sent for guys in the dating world. You put on your camera glasses and keep the handheld in your pocket. As the date progresses, you go through your normal speel like exaggerating how much money you make or how sensitive you are to the world's plight against hunger. The moment she knows you're full of shit and just want to have sex with her, BEEP BEEP BEEP. You can split the check and go out and find another willing victim...uh...I mean date.

* Blogging...Maybe they can set up a similar system for bloggers! You're reading a blog, and the moment you get bored, the software immediately removes the blog from your browser and takes you to a much more entertaing blog to.....



Perplexio said...

Didn't Rosanna Arquette use a similar device to kick Steve Guttenberg to the curb before their date had officially even started in the comedic classic Amazon Women On the Moon?

But she didn't wear funny glasses, she ran his driver's license, a major credit card, and his social security number and determined that among other things he was full of shit when he said things like "I'm really into Meryl Streep films."

Apparently technology has advanced a bit since then. :-)

Sherri said...

I soooooooo need a pair of these glasses!

In my case, they would be used during discussions with the husband. LOL

Then I would really know what he was thinking. >:)

KC said...

I love how you've come up with uses already for this product. They should hire you for their marketing and/or sales team!

The Phoenix said...

perplexio, I've never seen that movie. Now I need to check it out. Thanks!

sherri, men are very good at tuning women out. I guess this gizmo would make it tougher to do.

kc, I do work in sales, afterall. So marketing is second nature to me...just as sleeping with my eyes open in really boring meetings has become.

Lesser_Lumpkin said...

I'm supprised you missed Churches as a use for this device. I can just see the priest up there talking along and then BEEP BEEP BEEP and its time for some real hellfire and brimstone preaching. What a great gadget.

The Lumpy

Laurie said...

That's almost scary. I always think of the Terminator movies and how the machines take over the world...

Perplexio said...

Phoenix: It has no real plot. It's a series of comedic sketches some of which stand up well to the test of time (including the Steve Guttenberg/Rosanna Arquette bit) and others that well... not so much.

You will also learn of the speculation that the Loch Ness Monster was really Jack the Ripper... :-)

Grafs said...

Alot of people need those glasses. Me? I need the opposite. I'm way too sensitive.

Jamie Dawn said...

If I'm talking to someone while wearing those camera glasses and holding a computer, I'm thinking there facial expressions would say, "JD is a geek. She looks ridiculous."

I see that The Lumpy left a comment here. He was out of Blogdom for awhile and has recently returned.
His blog is very unique & very funny. I hope you have time to check it out.

Karen said...

emotion detector, great for Autistic children but look out for mischief makers like using cell phone cameras to take pics of women in tanning booths!

btw, look how young TC is, that was before he *weirded* out.

Tai said...

I think that EVERYONE should be intitled to a set of those!

DaBich said...

Sign me up for the experimental team :)

Mojotek said...

I don't know if I'd like it in the business world (you know for me), but it would be pretty cool if autistic individuals could really use it.

angel, jr. said...

Does a featured accessory include x-ray vision?

Will said...

Wow. Emotion recognition software. It sounds interesting, but how complex can it get? Can you tell if someone is lying? Maybe you could wear it for a job interview and see how much the boss likes you. The possibilities are endless.

The Phoenix said...

lumpy, Thanks for visiting. Church...I never thought of that. Good one!

laurie, We have computers that can's coming true.

perplexio, I knew there was something sinister about Nessie.

grafs, you need an emotion deflector machine.

JD, Yeah, they need to make the glasses less Ghostbuster-ish.

karen, Tom Cruise used to be the man. Now he's just a freak.

tai, Then there'd be no mystery among us.

dabich, as the camera wearer, or the one being analyzed?

mojotek, hopefully it can help those with autism understand another human being.

angel jr, That's pure genius!

will, Like I told JD, they need to make the glasses less obvious.

Ben Heller said...

I made it through the post. Yay me!

mrshife said...

This is pretty fascinating stuff. Now if they can just invent some sort of relationship translator so we really know what women mean when they say something.

Jim said...

my life is already one long *beep*

David Amulet said...

I hit BEEP BEEP BEEP three lines into this post.

Just kidding, of course.

When I read your line, "One problem with Autistic children is the inability to relate to other people," I had a thought: Maybe every member of Congress is actually an autistic child.


Phats said...

I want some camera glasses! sounds like fun

Keshi said...

I think most guys I dated had Autism then...


Jay said...

I wrote my thesis on facts of autism and thought I'd had my fill of it, but here I find a whole different ballpark.

Cari said...

I guess in a way this kind of takes their individual (ism) away don't it?

I would rather people work on loving who they are instead of molding themselves FOR ANYONE

If those people think u suck, then why bother with them?

Maybe I am reading into it more then I should.

It is more interesting for me to learn from people who are are different then me. People should open their mind more, and they will be shocked to see what really lies under some people.

Dr. Cissa Fireheart said...

HAHAHA!! OMG this was great...

They should have one of those for TV...oh wait, it's called a remote...damn....

Can I get one for the kids? I mean I can only listen to them whine for so long before I want to turn the switch to OFF sometimes.....maybe a little microchip in their head....

anyway! great post!

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Excellent idea. I'm getting one for The PK so when he starts talking all that construction jargon, he'll FINALLY have a clue that he might as well be speaking to me in Swahili...:)

The Phoenix said...

ben, you must not bore easily.

mrshife, science has it's limitations.

jim, my life is one big BLEEP.

david, I think that would have to apply to a lof of politicians. I think they develop a sort of autism once they get a little taste of power.

phats, You know, I think they sell camera glasses at Sharper Image.

keshi, I think men are when it comes to dating.

miss jay, How long ago did you write your thesis? Science is uncovering new things about autism - like how despite the removal of trace mercury in immuniazations, autism continues to rise.

cari, it removes some hummanity from relationships - but for those with autism, they are disconnected from others. They literally lack the ability to see things from another person's perspective.

cissa, that's an entirely different technology. I think we invented video games to keep kids quiet.

stacy, he might talk over the BEEPING anyway, though.

Jennifer said...

Heh, interesting device. More for Asbergers kids though eh? I couldnt imagine any of the autistic kids I've worked with in the past even caring.

I think I need one just for interpersonal communication.

The Village Idiot said...


Oh wait ..that was the answering machine. Sounds like a very cool adaptation of technology. Like the job I had before coming to Seattle. I have had exactly one job in my life where I felt like what I was doing actually benefited people. Making AFIS..yes those fancy fingerprint ID systems that you see them use on CSI. ALthough they don't make fancy searching computer noises...

Will said...

Fo sho. The glasses need to be very, very subtle.

DaBich said...

Either/or, as long as the pay and benefits are good ;)

Phats said...

Sharper Image?? I am a cheap bastard, how about the dollar store?

:P fuzzbox said...

My browser kicked me off three times before I could post a comment. Damned technology.

Sar said...

I assure you, there'll be no beeping from my glasses reading your blog, Phoenix.

The Phoenix said...

Jennifer, I think many Asberger's patients could benefit from such a gizmo. Any person that falls on the Autistic spectrum would, I think. This technology would be for older children through adults as well. Think about the real life Rainman...the guy can tell you what day August 3rd, 1901 was - but he can't tie his shoes...nor can he distinguish a sad person from a happy one.

village idiot, You made those cool fingerprint ID things??? Wow.

will, yeah - a big clucking camera off to the side would give you away I would think.

dabich, I hear it's great benefits - and a lot of fun too. Maybe you get a free pair of glasses and computer.

phats, At the dollar store, the best you can do are the gigantic sunglasses.

fuzz, maybe you should drink coffee while reading my posts.

sar, Thanks! That's so sweet. I'm looking forward to being a guest blogger on your site and posting about something totally non-scientific.

Jamie Dawn said...

We didn't drive to MO from CA. We moved out of CA, and that is why I've been dropping hints about where we live now at my blog. It's been fun playing around with it. We had a full day's drive from where we live to the St. Louis area. We are in truly hick country and it is fun blogging about it.

OnMyWatch said...

but what if you use Botox? what then?

Fated said...

if you use botox the emotion detector would be key!

Phats said...

Hey Phoenix I linked ya hope ya don't mind. If you do tough :) haha

Rocky said...

Wow, these glasses do sound amazing. And to think when we were kids, all they could come up with were those "X-Ray Glasses" in comic book advertisements.

The Phoenix said...

JD, a full day huh....hmmmm. You must be in Oklahoma maybe???

onmywatch, Maybe they should program the computer to read the facial expressions of those who aren't able to make facial expressions.

fated, You read my mind!

phats, I was going to link over to you as beat me to the punch!

The Phoenix said...

I always wondered about those X-Ray glasses when I was a kid. The picture of the guy looking at his own hand bones brought an air of legitimacy to the notion...

I'm so glad I'm not as gullible, although I do own a Flowbee.

Big Pissy said...

I want some!!!!

Jamie Dawn said...

I have a request.
Please post about Chimeras sometime.
I saw a show on these two ladies who have kids that do not match their DNA. They gave birth to kids who, if you test their blood, do not match.
It is very weird how this chimera thing works.
If you ever feel like looking into it further, I think it would make a cool subject for a post.
If the subject doesn't interest you at all, then forget I even mentioned it.

The Phoenix said...

Pissy, I think women's intuition already gives you ladies an edge.

JD, I did a post a long time ago on chimeras and even mentioned this case. You can read it Here

RAVEN the PITA said...


Jamie Dawn said...


I've officially lost my mind, well at least my long term memory.
I went and read that post. It seemed very familiar. When I went to the comments, I saw that I had left a comment there back when you posted it.
Just shoot me!!

The Phoenix said...

JD, that's OK...I think that might have been the very first time you found my little blog. That was the first month I started blogging, August of last year, and I think maybe 10 people read that post - and you were one of them!

Keshi said...

** I think men are when it comes to dating.

spot on :)


Curare_Z said...

I guess people won't wear their heart on their sleeves any more. It'll be on their glasses....

Jennifer said...

What I would be interested in knowing, is, if this device could identify emotions correctly, would the person who needs it even be able to acknowledge it?

For instance, psychopaths register feelings in Brocas area of the of the language areas. So, they process the feeling of "fear" much the same that the rest of us would process the word "light". Its a word, and nothing more. So, how would these kids, even if they were told that someone was "angry" at a behavior begin to process it? Would they understand? Are they even capable? It's like knowing the words to a song, but never hering the tune.

The Phoenix said...

God I love it when you talk all neurology like that...just kidding.

Autistic people aren't able to empathize, nor relate to other's emotions. Having such a device could at the very least alert the autistic person that someone is upset or not listening.

It would give them the chance to be notified of certain emotions from the listener. They might not be able to understand nor truly empathize, but at least they can change their behavior when the computer vibrates.

I'm very interested in doing a post about sociopaths, by the way.

Jillian said...

Awwww what happened to the "much more entertaining blog to...." and then the image is GONE!

Too many people swiping the image as your own, or is it a screenshot of your blog, perhaps?

And yes, I also think that this would be good around my family's dinner table too, for example. If I start telling a story about my day and then BEEP BEEP BEEP - I would know I'm getting boring ha ha. :-)

Anonymous said...

I have a 3yr old that is having problems. I'm told that he might be asberger's autism would these help with him I'm still learning about autism

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