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December 30, 2010

Mood sensitive Satnav coming?

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by Brian Turner

Cambridge University is reportedly working on a satnav system that will be more sensitive to drivers moods.

It comes in response to general frustrations with satnav systems that lead users into traffic jams, or dead ends due to the mapping software not being properly up to date.

According to Professor Peter Robinson, head of emotional robotics at Cambridge University, the aim of the project is to develop next generation computer devices that are more in tune with the emotional well-being of the user.

Professor Robinson said, “I love gadgets like GPS satellite navigation systems but I hate the fact they are so difficult to use, I think they were designed by sadists.

“The problem is computers don’t react to how I feel – if I’m pleased or annoyed they just ignore me.

“We’re building emotionally intelligent computers that can read my mind and know how I feel.”

The project aims to use an array of sensors to monitor tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions.

However, those expecting an understanding satnav on the car dashboard are in for a rude surprise - at present the project involves a robotic dummy sat in the passenger seat, which certainly won’t be ideal for many people.

There is also the additional danger that such projects will simply lead to computers becoming even more annoying - cold and emotionless computers we’ve learned to live with, but patronising ones may come as a rude shock indeed.

Story link: Mood sensitive Satnav coming?


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