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Now Facial Recognition Technology Knows When You're Bored

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Face it, no matter how intriguing or brilliant your college professor’s lecture on molecular thermodynamics or Balzac may be, at some point boredom will envelop your soul.

Wei Xiaoyong, a science professor at Sichuan University in China, knows this. That’s why he’s using facial recognition technology on his own students, determining exactly who’s day-dreaming about grabbing a beer after class, or yearning for an afternoon outside the Ivory Tower.

Xiaoyong developed the program on his own, which categorizes student’s expressions as either “happy” or “neutral,” using a “curve” that scans every impressionable youngster’s face. If it sounds like a weird bit of voyeurism -- or a teacher acting too much like a cop with the help of technology -- take a breath, and give Mr. Xiaoyong a chance. He told reporters the “tool can be used for a range of social sciences, psychological work and by educational researchers.” What’s more, the program allows Xiaoyong to judge his own performance: If he gets a room full of deadpan stares, he’ll know when to move onto a different topic, or perhaps perform a magic trick or tell a knock-knock joke.

It sounds like some Orwellian nonsense here in the United States, but in China, facial recognition is more widely used, notes The Telegraph. Uber incorporated it into its operations there in April, for instance, which undoubtedly helps people keep cars that they actually order.

As for what Xiaoyong plans to do with his program, he’s already passing it along to other researchers and Universities in China, in a hope that it catches on.

If he gets his way, then no Chinese university lecture will be safe -- at least for students looking to nap.

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Sam Blum is a Staff News Writer at Thrillist. Follow him on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.