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‘Mind-reading’ emotion detection tech developed that uses low cost WiFi

by Joy Green, Mar 3
2 minutes read

Researchers at Queen Mary University have recently developed a new and more accurate form of emotion detection that does not need any visual cues, such as facial expressions. Wireless radio signals, similar to those used for WiFi, are bounced off individuals, and analysed using an AI neural network. Slight body movements are read and interpreted in fine enough detail to reveal information about heart rates, breathing and emotional states. The research team is “now looking to investigate how we could use low-cost existing systems, such as WiFi routers, to detect emotions of a large number of people gathered, for instance in an office or work environment.”

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So what?

While there may be various benign applications of this technology, there are obviously massive implications for ethics and privacy, particularly if this turns out to be easy to use at scale and relatively low cost. Emotion detection surveillance that uses facial recognition cameras is already big business in China, despite reported inaccuracies. While such obviously totalitarian systems are less likely to be accepted in many other countries, an ‘invisible’ WiFi-based system could take hold more easily, particularly in private spaces like workplaces where other forms of monitoring are already in place. Examples for application given by the research team include police monitoring of crowds, looking for emotional changes that might lead to violence; in healthcare, to support wellbeing; and by  HR teams to assess the actual reception of company policies as opposed to what employees say.



by Joy Green Spotted 37 signals

Joy is a Principal Futurist at Forum for the Future.

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