In much the same way that faking a smile has been shown to elevate mood, Incendiary Reflection aims to influence emotion by utilizing a virtual mirror that digitally manipulates a person’s actual facial expression and displays an alternate expression back to them. The intended goal is to get people to absorb the facial feedback they see in front of them and perceive the computer generated facial expressions as their own, thus affecting their mood.
Developed by University of Tokyo graduate student, Shigeo Yoshida, the system presents subtle changes in emotion. The “mirror” consists of a display and camera that maps the user’s expression and makes slight changes in key areas of the face, like the corners of the eyes and mouth, to give the appearance of a smile when the person is frowning or visa versa.
The inspiration for the technology came about as a result of a well-known psychological theory called the Facial Feedback Hypothesis. The hypothesis states that there is a direct causal link between facial muscle movement and emotional reaction. In other words, if you act happy, you’ll feel happy. Yoshida and his team, who recently presented the work during this year’s SIGGRAPH conference, did indeed note a correlation in their research between the facial feedback displayed by the mirror and the subsequent emotional state of the user. Furthermore, the research also seems to indicate that the pseudo-generated expressions play a role in the overall decision making process. These findings are very interesting because they suggest that should the technology make its way into the mainstream it could potentially have wide-ranging applications in everything from mental health to the retail shopping experience.
Watch a demo of the technology below: