Fast enough to catch micro expressions -- the tiny facial tells that help mentalists, psychics and other stage performers profess to be able to read minds -- the app isn't just good at being able to tell the difference between a smile and a frown.
It can read a host of expressions and translate what it reads into overall emotional sentiment -- whether someone feels positive, negative or neutral about something or someone -- and can spot both primary and advanced, nuanced emotions. So everything from joy, surprise and anger through to frustration and confusion.
Created by Emotient as a proof of concept, and first reported on by The Next Web, the app uses the front-facing camera on Google Glass. Images from it are fed back to the company's software platform where the emotional analysis is performed and then the results are pushed back to the user via the Google Glass screen.
Google has made it clear that facial recognition apps are a no-no for developers working to create features for Google Glass, but Emotient's app is in a private beta stage -- i.e., invitation only -- and although it essentially records faces, it's for the purposes of understanding sentiment and feeling, the data is anonymous and it isn't stored.
There's little doubt that such an app could bring a whole new level of honesty, understanding and communication to certain relationships, but Emotient has bigger plans, in areas such as retail and health care, for being able to get an honest read of a consumer's sentiments towards a new product or device, for instance, or for picking up early signs of an illness.