A research team has developed a pair of sunglasses that can be used to read emotions and trauma.

People developed the ability to see in color due to the evolutionary advantage it gave humans when it came to reading emotions. For example, being able to see in color lets us know when a person is embarrassed because the flush of blood under the skin causes the skin to redden. New sunglasses are being developed that take that idea one step further.

2AI Labs, led by team researcher Mark Changizi, created the glasses to heighten the ability to view blood beneath the surface. That has implications in the real world and even in poker, where players could wear them to determine if their opponent is lying or trying to bluff. But where the team believes that they can make the most impact is in medicine.

There are three different technologies that the glasses can use to determine emotion and traume. One is a vein-finder, which makes more obvious to the wearer the “perception of oxygenation modulations under the skin,” and could conceivably be worn by nurses trying to draw blood from a patient. Another is a “trauma-detector,” which amplifies the view of trauma beneath the surface of the skin, and uses a “hemoglobin-concentration-isolator.” The third is the “general clinical enhancer,” which combines the two previously mentioned technologies.

The aptly designed rose-colored glasses are currently being tested at two New York hospitals. At Mount Sinai Hospital, doctors reported seeing in striking visual detail what was occurring beneath the surface of the skin.

Aside from the medical implications in traditional hospitals, the sunglasses would be extremely useful in developing countries and in disaster areas. While current technology is normally bulky and requires access to electricity, the sunglasses would allow doctors to quickly assess trauma and allow them to take care of patients with the greatest need. 

Called O2Amps, the team is readying the eyewear for general use which could have interesting consequences on relationships. The glasses may make one thing more difficult for couples – hiding your emotions from one another.