Researchers have discovered that by carefully analyzing the way a person walks that can give an accurate assessment of their emotional state. The study which unearthed the findings followed 59 people from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) in Beijing. The end goal of this type of research could be an established process for the reliable measurement of distinct emotional states, which could then be used to perform any number of other psychological procedures.
The research was performed using test subjects with two Samsung smartphones attached, one at their wrist and one at their ankle. Accelerometer data from both devices was recorded in a baseline emotional state where subjects walked for two minutes in a designated area. The participants were then made to watch an upsetting video and perform a one minute walk.
The same procedure was done following the observation of a pleasant video. Researchers were then able to establish a relationship between the accelerometer data and the emotional states of the subjects.
Potential uses for this data could include implementation into health apps or personal assistants. More fearful predictions for the abuse of this type of data don’t seem reasonable, as one would have to consent to wearing the device on their ankle - at least for the moment.
Because there is no established backlog of data on human behavior as it compares to their gait, the utility of this study is currently more of a novelty than something that can be readily used.
Similar research on emotional states has been conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute using
Google Glass. Titled SHORE (Sophisticated High-speed Object Recognition), the technology is able to assess multiple emotional states of whatever subject the user is observing.
Potential applications might include those affected by autism, who could interact with others more naturally using cues from the device. However, given the generally negative reviews on the Google Glass following its launch, the addition of an emotional-reading capability would seem to only further alienate people from those wearing it.