The Kinect for Xbox 360 has always been a bit of a playground for modders and techies, and a team of Computer scientists at the University of Southern California run by Stefan Scherer have used the device to determine, with 90% accuracy, whether or not you are depressed.
Users need simply sit in front of the Kinect camera, answer some questions from an on-screen virutal psychologist and the rest is automated, with the software reading your facial and body language and running them against various algorithms.
Called SimSensei, the software asks a series of leading questions and then watches how you physicially respond, using the Kinect technology to detect very minute details, including things like your "smile level," horizontal gaze and vertical gaze, how wide open your eyes are, and whether you are leaning towards the camera or away from it. Using the data compiled the software can sense whether or not you are exhibiting signs of depression.
Depression is one of the deadliest of all mental illnesses, and is still widely misunderstood among the public. This software is still in very early stages of testing, with only a very very small sample size of 60 people tested. 90% accuracy is also not a particularly great percentage where one's mental health is concerned; though for such a simple process it is certainly impressive and if nothing else could serve as a good first step for people concerned that they or someone they know may be depressed.
I know from experience that it can be difficult to open up to other people - in a professional setting or otherwise - about these matters. And so a quick, simple process that can be performed in complete
privacy may do a lot to help people get diagnosed early, which is always important, and if research and development in this area goes further, we might be able to see sophisticated software capable of accurately diagnosing a whole host of mental illnesses available for download on next gen consoles, or for your PCs, laptops and tablets.
In the meantime, do NOT run your symptoms through google. That never ends well.