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27 June, 2006 - 12:18 By News Desk

New technology could help combat road rage

Computer technology, which is able to read people's minds by analysing their facial features, could play a role in reducing road accidents if a new research project is successful.

The technology has been developed by scientists at Cambridge University and the team is working with a "major car company" to develop automotive applications.

The program uses a camera to analyse and mark 24 feature points on the face such as the nose and cheeks. Through different combinations of facial movements such as a smile or raised eyebrows, the program will then be able to detect the emotions of the user and how they're feeling.

Market launch of the technology in cars could happen within 5 years. Peter Robinson, professor of computer technology at Cambridge University said: "Emotions when driving are difficult to track as they are expressed more subtly. They are not as animated as they would be if you were talking face to face or on the phone. However, if we can crack this, the system would have fantastic potential to improve driver safety and prevent accidents."

In the future, the technology could also be used in websites that are able read our emotions and then tailor advertising accordingly, or a mobile phone that can react to your mood.

The Cambridge scientists are also collaborating with counterparts at MIT in the US to develop a wearable version of the technology to help people with conditions such as Autism and Aspergers. People who have these conditions have difficulty reading emotions so the transatlantic team is trying to develop a special headset that can detect and interpret people's emotions and then explain them to the user.

The technology is being showcased at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, running from July 3rd to July 6th. The team is hoping the event will produce valuable data.


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