Boffins at IBM are designing a new "Emotion Mouse" which, the company claims, can identify six different emotions by reading the user's pulse, temperature, general body activity and galvanic skin response (how your body could conduct electricity).
The mouse can apparently discriminate between anger, fear, sadness, disgust, joy and surprise.
Designers say it could turn computers into a source of sympathy and aid distance learning, but privacy experts are concerned that employers could use the technology as another way to snoop on staff.
Caspar Bowden, director of the Foundation for Information Policy Research, told vnunet.com: "It is a fearfully misguided piece of research... allowing a computer direct access to your emotional state is another example of Big Brother technology.
"Whatever the intentions of the designers, I can see no shortage of companies using the technology to flog corporations dodgy psychometric equipment.
"Lie detectors have error rates of several per cent - but that won't stop psychometric snake-oil salesmen persuading companies that monitoring their employees automatically is a good idea.
"Nothing could be better calculated to induce panic and fear in a computer user than the knowledge that their emotional responses are being continually gauged and monitored."
More information about the Emotion Mouse is available here.
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