This WiFi can read your emotions and know you’re sad-scrolling through Facebook

We are officially living in a sci-fi movie now that a team over at MIT has created a wireless network that knows your emotions. They don’t say the wireless network will give you a hug if you’re sad and scrolling through Instagram on a Saturday night at home or laugh at your stellar jokes when you’re feeling hyper, but it knows what you feel. This is The Fifth Element-type shit.

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) are using wireless signals —which are just bouncing around all over the place apparently — to create the EQ Radio, which is a little system that bounces off the wireless signals coming from your neighbor’s house and the coffee shop and everywhere in between to gauge a user’s heart rate and breathing pattern. It isn’t looking at your face or anything.

Apparently, the heart rate and breathing data are pretty accurate — 90 percent accurate, to be exact — in pinpointing four basic emotions: happy, excited, angry, and sad. So it’s rudimentary at best and doesn’t get too detailed like, “sad, but also sort of happy since you know you have wine in the house for later” is too specific. The EQ Radio uses the wireless signals to “bounce” off human bodies.

Mingmin Zhao, a graduate student at CSAIL and one of the co-authors of the study, told Gizmodo people’s breathing and heart rate “causes jitters in the head, the skin, and other body parts.” The team used an algorithm to identify more than 130,000 heart beats, all correlated to the different emotions in a study of 30 volunteers. Everyone feels and exhibits different behaviors in even the most basic emotions, so collecting more heartbeat and breathing patterns is essential to making the system even smarter.

Zhao said, “To train the system, we asked subjects to evoke particular emotions by recalling a memory, and they could use music or photos to help.” Once we had our training data, we then asked each subject to evoke a new spontaneous memory, which is what we tested the system on,” she added.

Eventually (in the probably nearer future than anyone would like to think about), you could have an EQ Radio in your home attached to a router. Or businesses could — like much of everything else, one of the biggest draws to this kind of tech to reach a broader market is so that advertisers could gauge your mood and offer things to you. If you thought Facebook ads were creepy, this is a whole different level.

With the popularity of “smart homes” and devices, this kind of technology could be used in tons of different ways. Like, maybe we could order pizza just because our network senses we’re bored and hungry.