Current projects in Cambridge are considering further inputs such as body posture and gestures to improve the inference. We can then use the same models to control the animation of cartoon avatars. We are also looking at the use of mind-reading to support on-line shopping and learning systems.
The mind-reading computer system may also be used to monitor and suggest improvements in human-human interaction. The Affective Computing Group at the MIT Media Laboratory is developing an emotional-social intelligence prosthesis that explores new technologies to augment and improve people’s social interactions and communication skills.
The mind reading actually involves measuring the volume and oxygen level of the blood around the subject's brain, using technology called functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).
The user wears a sort of futuristic headband that sends light in that spectrum into the tissues of the head where it is absorbed by active, blood-filled tissues. The headband then measures how much light was not absorbed, letting the computer gauge the metabolic demands that the brain is making.
The results are often compared to an MRI, but can be gathered with lightweight, non-invasive equipment.Wearing the fNIRS sensor, experimental subjects were asked to count the number of squares on a rotating onscreen cube and to perform other tasks. The subjects were then asked to rate the difficulty of the tasks, and their ratings agreed with the work intensity detected by the fNIRS system up to 83 percent of the time.
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