With the future of Google Glasses still uncertain and Samsung’s “chameleon glasses” in the development stage, Microsoft seems to be catching up in the race of smart glasses. The Redmond giant recently amazed us with the Hololens, and in its continued aggression towards getting into new-age tech, the company has now patented smart glasses that can tell the wearer about the feelings and emotions of people in the vision range.
The patent named as “wearable emotion detection feedback system” was filed in October 2012 and awarded earlier this week to Microsoft according to a report by Wall Street Journal. The patent, as per its abstract, claims to be “a see through, head mounted display and sensing devices cooperating with the display detect audible and visual behavior of a subject in a field of view of the device”.
How will it work?
The glasses will use sensors ( depth camera and microphone) mounted on the nose bridge of the glasses to detect audio-visual information from a subject such as facial expression, gestures, sound and even body temperature which would all be processed for things like subtle variations in speech rhythm and amplitude, choice of words, speed of gestures.
This data will be sent to Microsoft databases and it would be able to give a picture of subject’s “emotional state based on the action recognized relative to social scenario”, as put forward by Microsoft.
Information about a person’s emotional state could be displayed by tinting the lens color.
Microsoft’s patent also suggests showing more detailed information with words or graphics, as shown in the examples above.
The social situation is crucial here and users will be able to specify that to the gadget as body language interpretations can vary according to the social context. As the patent states,
If a subject plays with her hair in a social situation such as a date, this behavior may indicate friendliness or interest. However, same behavior in a business situation may indicate boredom.
In some parts of the patent, it is also shown that different devices can communicate with each other enabling their wearers share data in real time giving them a 360 degree view which can be quite useful in gaming or security work.
The patent filing does not specify uses but the applications can be plenty ranging from better interrogations at borders where device can, measure changes in body temperature or subtle shifts in voice quality to helping a speaker interpret the emotions of audience while giving a speech and accordingly change the tracks. It can also help special people such as autistic patients who struggle with understanding of emotions.
The glasses could detect changes in body posture to tell the wearer that their speech is being well received or is at risk of sending the audience to sleep, as shown in the examples from the patent above
However, it remains a mystery whether we get to see this patent actually developed into a commercialized product by Microsoft in future. A spokeswoman for Microsoft told the Wall Street Journal,
Microsoft regularly applies for and receives patents as part of its business practice; not all patents applied for or received will be incorporated into a Microsoft product.
The possibilities with this device are endless, and considering Microsoft’s recent run with Hololens, this could well turn out to be a milestone in the currently nascent field of ’emotional analytics’.