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Microsoft patents emotion-reading smart glasses

There have been plenty of ideas for smart glasses aside from the obvious Google Glass (the future of which is still highly uncertain, to say the least) – for example, Samsung’s take on ‘chameleon glasses’ which can change their appearance on the user’s whim – and now Microsoft has a very novel new idea for this particular arena.

The Wall Street Journal spotted Redmond’s patent for a pair of smart glasses which are capable of detecting the emotions of other people around the wearer (the patent calls the gadget a “wearable emotion detection and feedback system”).

The concept is a pair of specs chock full of various sensors (both visual and audio, including depth cameras and a mic) which can pick up on a huge range of body language and other cues from the subject being viewed.

The device will scrutinise posture, gestures (and the speed at which those gestures are performed), expressions, nuances in speech, level of eye contact, body temperature, and other similar sort of factors. Drawing all this data together will be able to give a picture of the subject’s “emotional state based on the action recognised relative to the social scenario”, as Microsoft puts it.

The social situation is important, and users will be able to specify that to the gadget, as different types of body language and so forth can vary in their interpretation when it comes to the social context. As the patent states: “If a subject plays with her hair in a social situation, such as a date, this behaviour may indicate friendliness or interest. However, the same behaviour in a business situation may indicate boredom.”

The emotion reading specs will be able to give feedback on individuals, or groups of people, so you can see, for example, the reaction to a speech you’re giving – which could be a terrifying prospect if the gadget presents you with a sea of ‘boredom’ emotions from those gathered in front of you. (Though at least you then might be able to change tack).

Whether or not this invention will see the light of day is unclear, but it’s certainly one of the more interesting tech patents we’ve come across.

Image Credit: Microsoft/USPTO

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.