BlackBerry aims to read your moods like a book
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Sick and tired of telling your friends how you feel? Don’t worry, your smartphone will soon be able to do it for you.
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has filed a patent for a smartphone that will be able to sense its user’s emotional state, based on the words being typed, your blood pressure, facial expressions, and even how hard you’re tapping the keys.
“Galvanic skin response sensors, may be used to capture biometric data of a user of the mobile device, including blood pressure, heart rate, muscle control, shaking, facial expressions, Galvanic skin response, etc., that may be useful in determining the emotional state of the user,” reads an excerpt from U.S. Patent Application No. 20120182309, which was made public Thursday.
The goal, says the application, is to eliminate the need for typing out all those smiley faces and frowns — emoticons are so 2011.
Instead, the phone would read your emotions and add appropriate visual cues; say, LIKE THIS IF YOU’RE ANGRY.
“While the availability of emoticons provides a way of expressing a writer’s mood or temperament with regard to entered text, the use of emoticons detracts from the fluidity and spontaneity of the communication . . . Moreover, the desired emotion to be conveyed may not be available from the predefined set of available emoticons,” the application continued.
If you find the idea of a mood-reading phone a little bit disturbing, tech industry watchers would beg to differ.
“Think of how many cues we give when we’re communicating. Machines are pretty bad at interpreting them. This is a step toward addressing that,” said Roel Vertegaal, associate professor of human-computer interaction at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.
With most smart phones having similar physical features, and growing similarity in their operating systems, things that might seem a little off the wall are a way to stand out from the crowd, said Duncan Stewart, technology research director for Deloitte Canada.
“Smart phones look pretty much the same, broadly speaking, and do a lot of the same things. This is the way they can differentiate themselves,” said Stewart, who estimates RIM could have the mood-reading phone on the market within a year.
“It used to take five years from the patent stage to getting something on the market. Things are a lot quicker now,” Stewart added.
Earlier this year, Microsoft filed a patent application for systems to track web surfers’ emotions, based on video conversations, Facebook status updates and other tools. The goal of Microsoft’s technology is matching online ads to users’ moods.
In an emailed statement, a RIM spokesperson wouldn’t comment on the company’s application.
“RIM has a culture of innovation and continually strives to make BlackBerry devices exciting for our users,” the spokesperson said. “The company continues to make patent applications in a diverse range of areas though we’re not able to comment on the potential application of this technology in our products.”