At a recent talk at the TED 2018 conference in Vancouver, Dolby Labs' chief scientist Poppy Crum revealed that technology can identify emotions despite people trying to hide their feelings.
"We believe we have cognitive control over what someone else knows, sees, and understands our emotions, insecurities, and bluffs. But technologies can already distinguish a real smile from a fake one," she said.
How can the technology see right through people
It can be gauged if someone is lying, infatuated, or getting violent, despite them not showing it, through sensors combined with artificial intelligence (AI).
While heat radiation can tell if we are stressed or romantically piqued, eye dilation can reveal how hard a brain is working.
It can be identified how riled up someone is getting by the amount of carbon dioxide they exhale.
It is the end of the poker face
Brain waves can reveal if someone is only pretending to pay attention and speech timing can tell if someone is at the risk of dementia. Technology can identify micro-expressions and chemicals in the breath to reveal feelings and use AI to further analyze and draw patterns.
An era of empathetic technology?
Crum is hugely betting on it.
Through it, counselors can tell if someone seeming happy is having a hard time, police can know if a potential criminal is acting bizarre due to a health condition, artists can see emotional responses to their work, hearing aids alter volume if the wearer is getting stressed, and teachers can know when students aren't able to understand a lesson.
Good: Can magnify empathy, Bad: Can lead to abuse
Crum said, "It is really scary on one level, but also really powerful. I am not looking to create a world where our inner lives are ripped open, but I am looking to create a world where we can care about each other more effectively."
However, the technology does raise concerns about a world where we can't keep even our innermost thoughts private.