Mood Readers in the Workplace

The BBC is reporting that technology maker Dell is working on “a mood-reading application” for both home and office use as soon as 2017.

Dell Research’s Jai Menon told the BBC that its researchers were currently working with specialized headsets to see if they could be used to give a reliable indication of whether the wearer was happy, sad, bored or frustrated.

“If I can sense the user is working hard on a task, an intuitive computer system might then reduce distractions, such as allowing incoming phone calls to go directly to voicemail and not letting the user be disturbed,” he suggested.

“Similarly, if they’ve been concentrating [for] a long time, maybe it could suggest a break.”

The BBC also reports that Dell isn’t the only big tech firm vying to enter the mood-reading market:

Microsoft has announced a series of mood-reading research projects, including Moodscope – software to infer a user’s mental state from their smartphone use – and a “smart bra” that monitors heart and skin activity to detect stress and emotions.

IBM has tested uses for brain-monitoring gear at its research base in Hursley, England.

While the idea of mood-recognition technology may tease the mind with its various possible uses both at home and in the workplace, the BBC managed to find an expert willing to express his mood (impatient) in a way that requires no specialized technology to decipher.

“I think the potential for these things is astronomical, but we’ve been told this technology has been five years away for decades,” said Dr. Bernie Hogan, a human-computer interaction expert from the University of Oxford.