There’s a product out of Japan that’s a hilariously sillyawesome accessory: wearable cat ears controlled by your emotions. Released to some fanfare and cat-ching the attention of a lot of media outlets, the practical applications of such a piece seemed limited beyond purveyors of outlandish fashion trends (see: Burners), neuroscientists attempting to explain their passion to the masses, and perhaps, Weeaboos.
But with the release of the Necomimi Tail, NeuroSky and the manufacturer of Necomimi ears and tails are also releasing an in-production social sharing network of geo-located emotional data. Here, the folks at Neurogadget.com explain it, briefly:
As for the tech side, once again a NeuroSky headset is used in the device, just as it was the case with the Necomimi. The tail is connected via bluetooth with the headset to read the user’s brainwave activity and to detect their emotional state. The data is then transmitted to the tail that will react according to the given input.
What sort of practical applications might come from this sort of technology? As it gets cheaper and more reliable (many EEG headsets sell for under $100 now), we are only limited by our imagination. The emerging field of emotional data mapping has many practical applications. Through Twitter, we are able to track the popular zeitgeist. In 2010, we learned that that network even provides one of the best measures of daily stock market returns. I have a friend who is using the Hollywood Stock Exchange as a means to measure and develop alternative forms of funding film projects.
- Mapping Public Space in a New Dimension (and in real time!)
You think that the days of Flashmobs were over? How about a HappinessMob where you check out where the happiest spots around town are? As shown in the video, if you’re in an elevated stress state, you could quickly discover a place of respite. As we live in ever-more condensed urbanism, we have to be smart about our space.
- Adding Happiness or Positivity ratings to Social Network Profiles
Imagine reading an incredibly negative Yelp review, visiting the author’s profile and discovering that they spend most of their day unhappy or bored. Then imagine following someone on FourSquare whose real-world discoveries have put him/her in the Top 10 list of residual happiness for others. As we continue to finetune our social networks to meet our personal needs and goals, I believe that positivity quantification will be an important measure for the next few years.
- Help You Find the Most Peaceful Commute
What if we had a ThinkUp of positive-thinking early adopters and took to the roads, creating a mobile community of happy drivers who love to share the road?This idea comes naturally to any Angeleno. For many newcomers to LA, the experience of Traffic (with a capital T, because we’re on a first name basis) can be harrowing. It can be an emotional rollercoaster, resulting in drivers wondering “What did I do wrong to deserve such a fate?” Of course, as much as the laws of traffic congestion are a cold, unfeeling amalgam of factors beyond whether someone is a good or bad person, we still seek ways of getting from A to B in peace. A geotagged emotional map could find the most relaxing and peaceful commutes, quantifying otherwise difficult factors such as scenery, road-sharing, and, of course, reliability/speed.
- Reaching Beyond Words
There are many among us who lack the ability to communicate emotions through a shared language. It’s why I’m a huge advocate for the arts (dance, especially) as a primary method of emotional conversation between people. This is less about geo-tagging than it is about one-on-one interactions, though. There is a substantial amount of research to be done about applications for emotional mapping and Autism. Other applications could include babies, those suffering from PTSD, or even animals. The ability to take an emotion, quantify it and express it in a nonverbal form is truly fascinating!
- Thought Police
I’d be remiss if I didn’t consider the 1984 of it all. Police could track outbreaks of panic or fear, reacting instantly to significant changes in mass emotion. Hell, they could even see a sudden gathering of very happy people in a small residential neighborhood at 2:30AM might indicate an out of control house party. Can an emotion like rage, prior to getting into a car accident, be one day admissible in court as evidence?Only the future knows…