How can [a] computer possibly find out anything about its human operator's frame of mind? Emotions are given away by peripheral physiological processes. Some of these, such as posture, fidgeting or frowning, are easy to detect and can be observed and classified by a camera with image analysis software. Heartbeat and breathing rate, blood pressure, skin temperature and electrical resistance of the skin, on the other hand, are rather more subtle factors. "We have developed a glove that has sensors for measuring parameters like these," says Christian Peter, engineer at the department for Human-Centered Interaction [at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics]. "It is connected to a device that evaluates and saves the data. We are also working on techniques that will enable computers to interpret facial expressions and extract emotional elements from voice signals."And from Nikkei Weekly.
Interpreting all the data is difficult too, since emotions are by their very nature ambiguous, transient and hard to describe. The method can only work if the user trains the computer in advance - but the IGD researchers have even succeeded in doing this.
Researchers at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (Riken) have created a computer operating system that can read a user's brain waves and manipulate the cursor accordingly. An electroencephalograph, which monitors the electrical activity of the brain, and roughly 200 electrodes placed on a user's head link to software that synthesizes the data and moves the cursor. Though brain waves are typically created by an action such as speech or movement, people can be trained to trigger that same brain activity simply by intending to perform an action. The Riken team expects the research to improve the accessibility of computers for handicapped people. The researchers matched each signal to appear from moving a part of the body with a particular movement of the cursor. This way, a user's intention to move his right hand would consistently move the cursor in the same direction. When conducting tests of people who had been trained to produce brain waves merely by intending to make a motion, the researchers reported that the cursor moved at an accuracy rate of 70 percent to 80 percent.