How Scientists Will Turn Your Smartphone Into a Lie Detector


Image: wonderfulengineering.com
So, you’re on a first date. You really like this person, and you have no idea whether or not they’re into you. As you casually pretend to check your phone, you record some video of your date (non-consensually—don’t actually do this), and receive an instant message that describes how they’re feeling, even if they’re trying to hide it: pleasure, excitement. Nice.

By Erene Stergiopoulos | MOTHERBOARD

This is the future one Toronto start-up, NuraLogix, is proposing. Their image processing software, called Transdermal Optical Imaging, claims to decode hidden emotions, and to double as a lie detector. The mind behind the project is University of Toronto developmental neuroscientist Kang Lee, whose twenty-plus years in the field have focused on human face processing and the science of deception.

According to Lee, NuraLogix’s tech works by detecting changes to blood flow in the face. The idea is that basic human emotions create specific facial blood flow patterns that are beyond our control. These patterns differ when we’re telling the truth, or a lie, according to him.

The software operates by measuring hemoglobin concentration, a component of blood. Previous work on the topic found a relationship between emotions and blood flow to regions like the cheeks and forehead. Those differences in blood flow can be picked up based on changes in skin colour—basically, the redder your skin, the greater the blood flow. (This has been tested among people of different races and skin hues.) A 2015 study found that an angry emotional state was associated with increased blood flow and redness, compared to a neutral emotional state. Sadness was the opposite, and revealed decreased blood flow and redness compared to neutral.

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