It is now official that Google Glass, the world’s first wearable computer, has now come up with an update to their hardware that includes detection of emotions in real time.
The first of its kind, this emotion detection application or glassware, according to Google, can also be used to accurately detect the age or gender of a person.
The developers of this app were aware of the insecurities associated with data infiltrations that happen through the internet and across the world of technology today and as such, they made sure that all the application’s analysis is done on-board and not using the cloud. In this way, any raw data about someone’s age, which could be somehow very sensitive to him or her, stays within the Glass device.
This could come as a blessing in disguise for people suffering from disorders like autism, where they often have a hard time interpreting different facial expressions, or maybe for people who generally have a hard time in dividing between the true emotional state of their loved ones, when they tell them that they are just “fine.”
The Google App is Tried and Tested
This real time emotion detector is as a result of the work of the geniuses situated in Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute. The app is based on the tried and tested Sophisticated High-speed Object Recognition Engine (SHORE) system. SHORE, which began as an object detection computer-vision system, is now one of the leading systems when it comes to face detection and analysis of fine facial. This system is capable of picking out the face of a person and succeeds 91.5% of these occasions as well as tells the gender of this person with a success rate of 94.3%. It can even go a step further and tell the age of a person.
The SHORE system of analysis has been there since technology started to boom and essentially, it is an extremely optimized C++ library. It has been deployed on a number of PCs and tablets but as it stands, this facial analysis technology has shifted to the Google Glass, even though the hardware is a bit wimpy with its 1 GB of RAM and a dual core TI OMAP 4430 SoC processor.
This feature is an amazing addition to Google Glass and it for sure comes with a myriad of implications. On the flip side, there are issues related to privacy. As earlier noted, the Google App is designed to work from the Google Glass and not from the cloud. In this way, all the raw data it detects stays within the Glass.
In this line, the developers at Fraunhofer stress two things: that no image leaves the device and that the app does not have the ability to determine the identity of other people you look at. Even though this is somehow comforting, it could have been possible for this app to offer both services; however, it is obvious that the developers chose not to. The world is competitive and technology is growing fast. Who knows, maybe someone, if not Fraunhofer, will enable facial recognition of approaching people in future.
The Good Outweigh the Bad
To some extent, a device that allows you to recognize the emotions of those approaching you would have some creepy implications, however; a deeper look at it clearly says otherwise. Think of it this way; you are walking in an alley and on your head is a wearable computer with a head-mounted camera that keeps analyzing the faces as well as the facial expressions of the people you look at. It is easy to be warned of any impending dangerous intentions from any person around you basing on their looks.
Using such a facial recognition device could warn you of a potential mugger if someone is staring at you aggressively. It could alert you of your long-lost friend standing across the street, or even if a woman of your dreams is coming your way. Better still, people with trouble keeping clear memories of the faces of people they’ve seen, for instance, those suffering from autism, could benefit a lot from using such a gadget.
Government agencies are using this technology; private companies are doing it too. And with mobile technology ever growing smaller and smaller, real time emotion and facial detection is inevitable. It’s just a matter of time and which tech giant jumps in with the first shot.