MIT researchers invent device that can detect human emotions via wireless technology

Agamoni Ghosh

Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a special device that can detect human emotions using wireless signals. The device – EQ-Radio – measures heartbeat and breath to tell if you're excited, happy, angry, or sad.

MIT professor and project lead Dina Katabi says, "Our work shows that wireless signals can capture information about human behaviour that is not always visible to the naked eye. We believe that our results could pave the way for future technologies that could help monitor and diagnose conditions like depression and anxiety."

According to tests performed by the researchers, the EQ-Radio is currently 87% accurate at detecting the right emotions by measuring subtle changes in breathing and heart rhythms. Unlike fitness trackers the device is able to pick up this information without on-body sensors.

The technology is starkly different than anything that's out there including Microsoft's vision-based "Emotion API", which focuses on facial expressions. In fact EQ-Radio was found to be more accurate in detecting joy, sadness, and anger than the Microsoft software.

EQ-Radio negates the need to wear anybody sensors. Using wireless signals reflected off people's bodies, the device measures heartbeats. Its beat-extraction algorithm breaks these reflections into individual heartbeats and analyses the minute variations to determine levels of excitement or positive affect.

Using biometric elements to determine human behaviour has been a growing trend in the past few years. A technology like this that does not need any contact with the human body to perform its function can be a major boost to smart electronic products in the future.

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