Ever 90% of face-to-face communication happens without speaking. A smile or a frown can reveal what the speaker is feeling or thinking. Even when we speak, we communicate a lot through the tone of our voice.
At the moment computers are not capable of understanding us very well. This is clear when we go online and use Internet search engines. Often many of the websites they select are irrelevant. If we could explain what we want by speaking to them, computers would be more effective.
Scientists predict that in the near future they will have taught computers how to recognize speech and they will be teaching them to recognize and respond to human emotion. They say that in the next ten years it will be simple for computers to detect our emotions from the tone of our voice. If you shout at your computer, it will understand that you are angry or impatient, and will do the task quickly.
As well as devices which can interpret your mood from your tone of voice, there will be other devices which monitor your mood through your body temperature, your eyeball movements and the angle of your eyebrows. Your CD player, for example, will know how you`re feeling and will play the music you want to hear without being asked. When you`re feeling low, it will play music to cheer you up, and when you need to sleep, it will play something soothing.
An alternative way of detecting emotions could be through technology that you `wear`. For example, a video game with an arm band which can detect what a person is feeling could be very exciting. Another wearable device that scientists will be developing is a skin chip which is implanted under the skin. It will be able to detect if you feel stressed or in a bad mood and send a warning to other people in the house to keep away from you and not upset you! If you`ve been working to hard, the central computer system which controls your house of the future will be able to detect this and search for the perfect holiday to help you relax.
Will these emotional recognition systems in the home make us happier? We don`t know. Perhaps it will be like having your best friend always on hand to give good advice. Computers that helps us when we are stressed, stereo systems that predict what we want to listen to, games that keep us on the edge of our seats: the digital home of the future looks as if it is going to be an interesting place to live.