Spy cameras could soon know what we're thinking and feeling simply by scanning our BODIES - and there may be no way to opt-out

Spy cameras could soon know what we're thinking and feeling simply by scanning our BODIES - and there may be no way to opt-out

The claims were made by Dolby Labs' chief scientist Poppy Crum at Ted 2018
She studies people's reactions as they watch films using scanning techniques
Future devices could be set up in public spaces to harvest this valuable data
There will be no way for us to opt out or ditch this passive technology, she warns

By Tim Collins For Mailonline 06:35 EDT, 13 April 2018 | UPDATED: 11:45 EDT, 13 April 2018

The data we share with companies online has become a hot-button issue, but new technologies could soon be scanning us as we go about our day.

That's the claim made by a neuroscientist, who believes that devices in the real world will start gathering unprecedented levels of information about us.

Our bodies give off various signals that can be scanned and analysed by advanced computer systems, revealing everything from our current mood to our overall health.

In a similar way to wearable gadgets already available, future devices could be set up throughout public spaces to harvest this valuable bio-data.

Because they are part of our surrounding environment there will be no way for us to opt out or ditch the technology and new regulations will be needed, she warns.

The claims were made during a presentation given by Dolby Labs' chief scientist Poppy Crum, who has spent the past few years studying people's reactions as they watch films, at the Ted 2018 conference in Vancouver.

Using thermal imaging cameras, 'mind-reading' electroencephalogram (EEG) caps, heart rate monitors and skin response sensors, she can watch how volunteer's bodies and minds respond to what they watch on screen.

And it's a small step to imagine these techniques making the move to the real world in the near future.

Speaking at the Ted conference, the BBC reports she said: 'We like to believe we have cognitive control over what someone else knows, sees, understands about our own internal states - our emotions, insecurities, bluffs or trials and tribulations.

'But technologies can already distinguish a real smile from a fake one.

'The dynamics of our thermal signature give away changes in how hard our brains are working, how engaged or excited we might be in the conversation we are having, and even whether we're reacting to an image of fire as if it were real.

'We can actually see people giving off heat on their cheeks just looking at a picture of flame.'

Professor Crum, who is also a researcher at Stanford University, demonstrated to the audience how some of these techniques can already be taken out of the lab.

Using carbon dioxide monitors, she displayed fear levels among conference attendees using a data visualisation.

Explaining the experiment, she added: 'There are tubes in the theatre - lower to the ground since CO2 is heavier than air.

'They're connected to a machine that lets us measure with high precision the continuous differential concentration of carbon dioxide.

'It takes about 20 to 30 seconds for the CO2 from your reactions to reach the machine.


An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a recording of brain activity originally developed for clinical use.

During the test, small sensors are attached to the scalp to pick up the electrical signals produced when brain cells send messages to each other.

In the medical field, EEGs are usually carried out by a highly trained specialist called a clinical neurophysiologist.

These signals are recorded by a machine and are looked at by a doctor later to see if they're unusual.

An EEG can be used to help diagnose and monitor a number of conditions affecting the brain.

It may help identify the cause of certain symptoms, such as seizures or memory problems.

More recently, technology firms have used the technique to create brain-computer interfaces, often referred to as 'mind-reading' devices.

This has led to the creation and design of a number of futuristic sounding gadgets.

These have ranged from a machine that can decipher words from brainwaves without them being spoken to a headband design that would let computer users open apps using the power of thought.

'You can see where some of us jumped as a deep red cloud. It's our collective suspense creating a spike in CO2.'

There a huge data privacy implications for any company, governement agency or other organisation that tracks this data.

Professor Crum advocates greater industry regulation, created pro-actively before such technologies become widespread, according to Business Insider.

She added: 'Your devices will know more about you than you will. I believe we need to think about how [this data] could be used.'


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