Dec. 17 - Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a computer-controlled mirror designed to transform a sad face into a happy one. They say the mirror can trigger positive feelings in people who may previously have been in a bad mood, simply by manipulating their appearance. Rob Muir has more.
This mirror has two faces, although one of them is not a true reflection. It's a real-time, computer generated image controlled by software that can turn a frown...upside down. It's a subtle transformation but achieves the desired result, according to the University of Tokyo's Michitaka Hirose. . (SOUNDBITE) PROFESSOR AT UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO'S GRADUATE SCHOOL OF INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY, MICHITAKA HIROSE, SAYING: "If users see a happier face and perceive themselves to be smiling, then we've found it actually puts them in a better mood." Hirose calls it an 'incediary reflection' mirror. A built-in camera captures and tracks a user's face in real time, displaying it on the mirror-like screen, while the computer programme manipulates the image to turn a bad mood into a good mood. Hirose says it was developed as a virtual reality tool to control emotions artificially. (SOUNDBITE) PROFESSOR AT UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO'S GRADUATE SCHOOL OF INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY, MICHITAKA HIROSE, SAYING: "Until now virtual reality has just dealt with physical things, reproducing the physical world. But there's also a mental world, right? So if we can analyse feelings like sadness or happiness properly, then we can also add an emotional dimension to virtual reality. If we can do that, we'll be entering a whole new phase for research." The researchers say the technology could one day be used to help treat mental health problems like depression or in places like store changing rooms where people are trying on clothes..a technology that influences mood, to influence behaviour.