Imagine a sort of social X-ray, a tool that raises your awareness emotions others are feeling when you are with them?

Affectiva (which specializes in affective computing) is now experimenting with glasses that provide you with visual and auditory feedback on the emotional expressions of others, based on facial recognition, galvanic skin response, and more.

In her recent article, Specs that See Right Through You, Sally Adee describes her (mis)-perceptions of a recent interaction with one of the masterminds behind the glasses, MIT Media Lab’s Rosalind Picard:

I became privy to this knowledge because a little voice was whispering in my ear through a headphone attached to the glasses. It told me that Picard was “confused” or “disagreeing”. All the while, a red light built into the specs was blinking above my right eye to warn me to stop talking. It was as though I had developed an extra sense.

The glasses can send me this information thanks to a built-in camera linked to software that analyses Picard’s facial expressions. They’re just one example of a number of “social X-ray specs” that are set to transform how we interact with each other. By sensing emotions that we would otherwise miss, these technologies can thwart disastrous social gaffes and help us understand each other better. Some companies are already wiring up their employees with the technology, to help them improve how they communicate with customers. Our emotional intelligence is about to be boosted, but are we ready to broadcast feelings we might rather keep private?

For more on Rosalind Picard’s Emotion Technologies, see her recent TEDxSF talk: