Cyborg glasses let you fake a good mood

Why bother with Google Glass, when AgencyGlass lets you convey emotions through digital eyes? Hirotaka Osawa wants to help people look happy even when they're not.

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
2 min read

Hirotaka Osawa wearing AgencyGlass.
Hirotaka Osawa wearing AgencyGlass. Screenshot by CNET

What happens when you have a job where you have to constantly look happy even when you're not? Nurses, doctors, teachers, retail salespeople, waiters, baristas, flight attendants, and others in the service industry can't afford to appear angry or annoyed when serving the public.

Cyborg technology has ensured our ability to improve both physical labor with robotics and brain labor with computers, so why not emotional labor -- in which politeness toward the public is just as important as the task itself.

Hirotaka Osawa, from Tsukuba University in Japan, wants to ensure that we all look friendly and approachable with his emotional labor-saving device -- AgencyGlass.

"I developed a robotic device called AgencyGlass to extend our social skills and to decrease our emotional labor," Osawa explained in his video "Wearable Eyes Turn You Into Emotional Cyborg."

What looks like a high-tech version of googly-eye glasses is actually a wearable device that displays digital eyeballs on lenses that follow people around the room and gives the user an appearance of politeness.

AgencyGlass has quite a few animated options. The digital eyeballs blink when nodding your head. Tilt your head back, and the eyeballs look up to simulate a thoughtful expression. The device is run by a microcomputer with Bluetooth, a microphone, gyrometer, accelerometer, a battery, and OLED displays.

An external camera, which can be worn in a shirt pocket, detects people looking at you as they walk by so your digital eyes can respond accordingly, giving the illusion that you're returning their gaze.

Dark lenses in the AgencyGlass hide the users' real eyes but don't obstruct their normal vision, so they can go about their normal activities such as reading and walking. More importantly, they can sneak in a quick nap while attending meetings.

Whether or not your co-workers, bosses, and customers will take the device seriously has yet to be determined. But if people can gladly turn into Google Glassholes, why not wear something that makes us look like we care what others have to say?

(Via IEEE Spectrum)