A lot of us take the fact that we can see a huge spectrum of colours for granted, but have you ever thought about why our cheeks flush when we’re ill? Or why our skin looks a little grey and dull when we’re feeling rundown? Well, according to evolutionary neurobiologist Dr. Mark Changizi (yep, that’s his ACTUAL job title) we’ve evolved to notice these subtle changes in colour in order to survive and help one another. Who’d have thought it, eh?
Changizi has been working with a team at a human cognition research center, called 2AI Labs, in order to create a special pair of glasses fitted with a kind of fancy filtering technology that could detect even the most subtle changes in our skin colour. The advanced filters on the lenses will work to amplify our natural ability to see hues under the skin, which the team believe could help medical professionals spot signs that a patient has an underlying health problem and deem some tests redundant. GOOD writes:
“One filter would make veins show up more clearly, so no more jabbing the wrong part of the arm when a nurse is seeking an insertion point for a needle; another would allow doctors to easily detect trauma beneath the skin; and a third would apply a mood ring-like range of color associations to a patient’s blood. The blood of an anemic person, for example, would show up with a greener hue with the shades on.”
The glasses will be called O2Amp and are being tested out at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York as we write this.
The O2AMP obviously won’t be a definitive way to diagnose illnesses, but it could be a quick and easy method to identify that something isn’t quite right, which will then lead to further, more accurate testing. Changizi also believes that the glasses could be used for other purposes, like in poker, security services and even dating, so we can see how people are REALLY responding to social cues and whether they’re lying or bored.