The Computer That Reads Your Mood
Imagine a future where your computer knows when you're feeling stressed and adjusts to you accordingly. The same system can also, say, sense when an air traffic controller is feeling burned out, and pass the next airplane landing on to someone else -- automatically.
Well, with $445,000 from the National Science Foundation, researchers at Tufts University are hoping to make such a system a reality.
The project uses near infrared light to monitor blood flow in the brain. The near infrared light passes through the human body, but is absorbed by oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin in blood cells. Researchers believe that by watching for increased flow of oxygenated blood to certain areas of the brain, they can monitor stress levels. Eventually, these stress levels could be checked automatically by a computer, which would adjust its interface in subtle ways to relieve said stress. (Or just force you off the system if you're doing something life-or-death-threatening like landing planes!)
Researchers made no mention of specifically how the computer might change its interface, only that it would be lightweight changes -- maybe dimmer lighting or fewer onscreen animations? -- to reflect the often subtle and imperfect information they glean from the readings.
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