Hard pass

No, we do not need an emotion tracking necklace called NeckFace

But thanks for asking.

A research team at New York’s Cornell University has developed a device that can be worn as a necklace “which can continuously track full facial expressions by using infrared cameras to capture images of the chin and face from beneath the neck.” It’s called the NeckFace, presumably because it’s a play on “necklace,” although we aren’t fully sure of that. In fact, we aren’t fully sure of anything right now, if we’re being honest, because look at this thing:

No. Nope. Nuh-goddamn-uh. Cornell’s research team claims “the device, when optimized, could be particularly useful in the mental health realm, for tracking people’s emotions over the course of a day.” Because nothing eases one’s anxieties and paranoia more than a smart camera/FitBit albatross dangling from your neck.

Other proposed NeckFace uses include video conferencing without the need to sit in front of a camera or monitor, allowing one to do other tasks simultaneously. There’s also the potential for the thing to help out in virtual reality scenarios if your face is partially masked by a VR headset, as well as providing lip reading services for individuals who can’t speak, the latter of which is really the only conceivable purpose we are comfortable with endorsing at the moment. We’d say no one in their right mind would ever be interested in such a product otherwise, but then again, there’s this. And this. And this.

Does anyone really think this will end well? — “With this technology, we could have a database on how you’re doing physically and mentally throughout the day, and that means you could track your own behaviors. And also, a doctor could use the information to support a decision,” explains research team leader Cheng Zhang.

Okay... do we really need to list out all the scenarios in which a NeckFace (ugh) could go sideways? Actually, “could go sideways” is misleading—similar technology has already gone sideways in places like China, where businesses and prisons are using AI-assisted “emotion monitoring” systems. In closed environments, something like the... sigh... NeckFace could provide usual information to health experts, but it’s hard to see how the pros outweigh the many cons here. Unfortunately, we doubt we’ve seen the last of the NeckFace, or its many imitators that are sure to follow in the near future. Just keep them the hell away from our necks and/or faces, please.