SMART specs that know when you are smiling are being developed by researchers to help rehabilitate people with facial paralysis and they could also help with depression.
The technology - named Facial Remote Activity Monitoring Eyewear (Frame) – may also enable someone who cannot use all four limbs control a wheelchair.
The £800,000 project is a collaboration between Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, Brighton-based technology company Emteq, Nottingham Trent and Coventry Universities and charity Facial Palsy UK.
The project is funded by the National Institute for Health Research Invention for Innovation Programme.
The technology will centre on the use of miniaturised sensors in the frames of the glasses to measure facial symmetry by tracking the movement of muscles, and the intensity of those movements.
Consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Queen Victoria Hospital Charles Nduka said: “People with facial paralysis or stroke can have a very limited awareness or control of any abnormal facial movements they may have.
“So without proper feedback, their condition may worsen and lead to permanently abnormal movements.
“But by wearing a pair of glasses which provide real-time muscle feedback, patients would be able to practice their exercises without having to stare at themselves in the mirror regularly.
“Rather than spending short periods of time exercising, their rehabilitation would become part of their day-to-day interactions.
“This could really transform the ability of both clinicians and patients to monitor their progress.
“The glasses would help quicken their recovery, provide significant improvements in their facial function and give them a better quality of life.”
People with facial palsy currently practice facial exercises in front of a mirror. But many dislike seeing their own reflection as it reminds them of their condition, and can make them feel discouraged and stop exercising altogether.
Frame will allow patients to practice exercises discreetly while going about their lives and provide them with information on their progress.
Muscles to be monitored include those controlling a person’s smile, nose, nostrils, eyes and ears.
The patient’s smartphone will provide a schedule of routines, give live feedback, data on muscle tone, number of repetitions, weekly progress and historical information.