Humans are expert communicators, but communication involves a lot more than just language. We also pick up a lot of cues from others' behavior, especially from others' faces. For instance, psychologists have identified at least six universal facial expressions. We also express a lot when our faces involuntarily change color or temperature, such as when we blush or turn pale or sweat.
But while many of these involuntary facial cues are invaluable for communicating our emotions to others, they can also be subtle. They can be easily misinterpreted, or even overlooked entirely. And let's face it, sometimes that's for the best. This is especially true when we're feigning modesty, have something to hide, or are trying to keep an important secret. There are times when our facial cues threaten to betray us, and some of us are better at hiding them than others. It's all part of a delicate social dance that we all play.
But the rules of the game could soon change, thanks to a remarkable technological advancement by researchers at 2AI Labs. They have developed specialized glasses that allow their wearer to perceive the subtle facial cues of others with an acuity never possible before, according to Gizmag.
The glasses are specially tinted to enhance a person's color vision, essentially allowing a wearer to more accurately perceive the oxygenation and hemoglobin variations in another person's face. In other words, the glasses are a mind-reading game-changer. They basically put everyone's emotions on full display to anyone who knows how to interpret oxygen and blood pooling patterns in the face.
Potential applications for the glasses, called O2Amps (O2 for oxygen, Amp for amplification), are both fun and frightening. For one, they could serve as wearable lie detectors, which could help law enforcement officers during interrogations. The glasses could also assist psychologists and counselors in identifying the emotional states of their patients. Moreover, because the glasses help their wearers see blood under the skin, they could help nurses identify veins, as well as pinpoint trauma and bruising otherwise invisible to the naked eye.
The glasses have also drawn interest from poker players, and could make bluffing a thing of the past. (Or force poker players to wear masks!)
They could also be used to take the mystery out of dating — for better or worse. A date's emotional state would be effortless to identify; you could easily tell if they're blushing or aroused (or not).
Of course, each of these potential applications comes with a fair share of drawbacks. For instance, there are serious legal and ethical questions that need to be asked about the invasion of privacy and other rights violations. Also, as fun as they could be to use, remember: others could just as easily use them against you, too. (Do we really want everyone's emotions to be completely transparent? There are some things that might be better left unseen.)
Regardless of these questions, though, the technology is already available. In fact, you can currently purchase the glasses through the O2Amps website or at Amazon for $297.
They're pretty stylish too, so be careful. When your next date shows up looking good in a pair of custom tinted sunglasses, you might want to focus less on how good the glasses make him look, and focus more on how they might make you look.
Related on MNN: 2012 film 'Sight' offers sinister take on Google Glasses