One of my favorite aspects of writing about tech and business is getting a sneak preview of new, mind-blowing products that seem like something out of a sci-fi movie. Whether it's flying cars, actual jet packs, temporary tattoos that turn your skin into a touchpad, or drink drones that bring your coffee right to your desk (yes, please!), next gen tech never stops amazing me.
But this latest gizmo out of MIT might just be the most impressive of all.
It's a mind-reading device. Seriously. No, it can't guess which number from one to ten you're thinking of or which playing card you're looking at (so relax gamblers), but it seems it can figure out what emotion you're feeling from a distance using, of all things, radio waves. Which is still incredibly cool. As Quartz's Katherine Ellen Foley describes it, the device, currently named EQ-Radio,
emits a harmless radio frequency signal. If the waves hit a person in the room, they bounce off, changed very slightly by that person's breathing and heartbeats. EQ-Radio notes these minute changes in the reflected waves, and uses them to record those vital signs. It does this over and over again, tracking variation in breathing and heart rate...
In a small trial of 30 people, EQ-Radio could predict four emotions--happiness, excitement, anger, and sadness--in 87% of cases after it took a baseline heart and breathing rate.
It's still very early days for the technology, which hasn't yet been written up in a peer-reviewed journal, but the MIT computer scientist behind the new tech, Dina Katabi, envisions it possibly being used to monitor the emotional state of medical patients, gauge the reactions of film audiences for curious producers, or even integrate with your smart home so that the lighting and music match you mood one day.
Intrigued? Check out the video below for more information.