This Computer Knows When You’re Sad

March 6, 2014 | Andy Cush

A group of Italian researches who have developed a Kinect-powered computer that can detect human emotion by analyzing bodily movements. New Scientist explains how it works.

The system uses the Kinect camera to build a stick figure representation of a person that includes information on how their head, torso, hands and shoulders are moving. Software looks for body positions and movements widely recognised in psychology as indicative of certain emotional states. For example, if a person’s head is bowed and their shoulders are drooping, that might indicate sadness or fear. Adding in the speed of movement – slow indicates sadness, while fast indicates fear – allows the software to determine how someone is feeling.

The program guessed just about as well as a human — the 60 study volunteers had the emotion of the stick figure right 61.9, while the computer got 61.3.

This song feels appropriate.

(Photo: @Rool Paap)