A piece of news from last year's New Scientist that surfaced on Digg today: Media Lab students built a device that alerts people suffering from autism to social cues. "The "emotional social intelligence prosthetic" device [...] consists of a camera small enough to be pinned to the side of a pair of glasses, connected to a hand-held computer running image recognition software plus software that can read the emotions these images show. If the wearer seems to be failing to engage his or her listener, the software makes the hand-held computer vibrate."
"The software picks out movements of the eyebrows, lips and nose, and tracks head movements such as tilting, nodding and shaking, which it then associates with the emotion the actor was showing. When presented with fresh video clips, the software gets people's emotions right 90 per cent of the time when the clips are of actors, and 64 per cent of the time on footage of ordinary people."
This looks like a much more graceful alternative to sticking your research subjects into a brain scanner to see if your ads activate something. In the future, all TVs or whatever media devices we'll have instead should come with this thing built in.
This is the Media Lab group's page with a few other details.