Sunday, 20 April 2014

These Eyes These Eyes

Emotional labour is a term which refers to the use of body and facial expression to convey emotion. Most of us have worked with the general public at some point in our lives and can relate to the drain that these forms of employment can put on an individual, particularly in terms of emotion. The embedded video here depicts a recent device which is attempting to address this drain. Dr. Hirotaka Osawa has developed a set of glasses which enhance the emotional response of the wearer: the glasses blink, change angle and prolong gaze depending on the action of the person interacting with the wearer. 

While the device itself is fascinating, it is the future of this technology which is of major interest to the field of cognitive science. Dr. Osawa hopes that this technology will lead to the development of similar devices which mimic human smiles and ultimately to the development of whole android faces. The interpretation of meaning from a face is largely dependent upon gestural elements from the eye and mouth areas. Speech interpretation is typically dependent on the sound content of speech but visual gestural elements are also a major part of speech interpretation. In order to develop an emotional android we need to get a better grasp on the gestural elements of speech perception.


The embodied approaches fully embrace the importance of all the various elements involved in speech. A move in mainstream psychology towards the embodied perspective would be of major interest in moving research, like that of Dr. Osawa’s, towards a level of actualisation that is perhaps not attainable when approached from the traditional psychological viewpoints. This is just one aspect of research, both applied and theoretical, which would benefit from a shift to the embodied approaches. This move has been on the cusp of cognitive science arguably for a number of years. It is up to the researchers of the present, and perhaps more so, the students of the future to push this forward.

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