By Dianna Rupp
Honeycrisp Inc.’s new product, a device that can read your vital signs and body language to determine what sort of television programming you most enjoy, hit the scene this week and has been the center of a large debate about whether or not our society as a whole has moved away from attempting to progress technology for sake of intellectual pursuit and instead moved forward in the way of lazy, artistic endeavors at best. While the idea of not having to go through the peasantly action of picking a remote up and hitting the up or down button with your own fingers may seem like the absolute definition of the bees knees at first, the implications of having a device read your facial features and vitals to determine what you like is, to be lite about it, downright wonky.
The way in which we react to things on a biological level is, to say the least, complex. As such, monitoring something as basic as vital signs (which, yes, medically speaking are the absolute basics of any beginning phsyological review) honestly aren’t going to tell you much other then that, sure, when a person’s heart beat begins to accelerate, they may be viewing something they enjoy. You now what else causes that reaction, though? Things they’re terrified of. So how would a machine know if the person is absolutely in love with sharks or about to pee their pants? That brings us to the facial reactions. Similar to how changes in blood pressure, heart beat, breathing, etc. can reflect a variety of different changes, facial reactions can as well, and are typically unique to the individual. That being said, what may be a face of fear for one person could be conveyed as a face of anger for another. Unless the company is planning on creating a personalized biological (and psychological, as much of our body language is based on our individual psyches) profile for each customer, the device has, at best, a minimal chance of actually working in it’s intended manner, and for the general population that statistically has an enormous fear of spiders, they may not be so happy when the device changes their t.v. station from cartoon network to a discovery show dedicated to the modern tarantula.
Past it being conceptually a nightmare, the influence it would have on the t.v. and film industry would be interesting, to say the least. If studios want their movies, shows, etc. to continue to be popular, they would be forced to rely on things that are known to be liked by the widest variety of audience; that being said, most things would consist almost solely of porn and violence, as those individual genres illicit the most common and accepted emotions, arousal and excitement. While it may not paint a particularly pretty picture of what going to the theater may mean in the future, an important part of receptability for movies comes from how they do at the theater, and if you want something to be as easily changeable to once it hits a t.v. station, then you have to ensure that the device will categorize into the broadest receptacle of body language and vital response possible.