Japan’s digital eyes show your emotions for you

TOKYO: Can’t be bothered to show anyone what you’re thinking? Then a Japanese scientist has the answer — a pair of digital eyes that can express delight and anger, or even feign boredom.

Building on a long line of slightly wacky and not-very-practical inventions  for which Japan is famous, Hirotaka Osawa has unveiled the “AgencyGlass”.

“I wanted to build a system that is capable of carrying out social  behaviours for humans,” he told AFP.

Just as robots can reduce the need for physical labour, the AgencyGlass —  which looks like two small TV screens set in spectacle frames — aims to cut  down its user’s emotional
demands by carrying out their eye movements for them.

The two organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens, which are connected to  motion sensors and an external camera, show a pair of eyeballs that can appear  to be making eye contact while the wearer is looking somewhere else entirely.

The wearer has to choose their emotion in advance — if they want to appear  “attentive”, for example, they must switch it to this mode before putting the  glasses on.

Osawa, of the prestigious Tsukuba University, said possible applications  include for flight attendants dealing with irritating passengers, or teachers  who want to project an image of kindness towards shy students.

“As the service sector grows and becomes more sophisticated, it becomes  increasingly important that we behave by showing understanding to others,” he  said. “That requires us
to behave differently from our true feelings.”

Such “emotional labour” has caused some people to become deeply conflicted  and develop emotional illnesses, Osawa said, adding that his technology could  eventually
help them.

The glasses weigh around 100 grams (3.5 onces) with the battery lasting  roughly an hour, Osawa said, adding that the prototype cost just over 30,000  yen ($290) to make. They
are currently not in production.