A team of researchers created a mirror that could change a person’s reflection from sad to happy in an effort to create an actual positive change in the viewer’s attitude.

In development by researchers at the University of Tokyo’s Hirose-Tanikawa, the “incendiary reflection mirror” creates a subtle change in a person’s expression in the mirror to influence the person’s mood.

Mirror Changes Reflection in Subtle Ways to Influence Mood

The technology is not really a mirror, but a camera and a display that records a person’s likeness and reflects it back in a slightly modified (happier or sadder) state, trying to influence his or her mood. (Image source: Shigeo Yoshida)

Here’s how it works:

Incendiary reflection aims to create computer-generated emotion by letting people recognize pseudo-generated facial expressions as changes to their own facial expressions.

This artwork influences your emotional state by reflecting your facial expression as a slightly different one. Although you are not changing your facial expression, your face in the mirror looks like happy or sad. What someone sees in the mirror is her/himself. However, if one could see his/her face smiling in the mirror, then one unconsciously recognize the changing in mirror as one’s actual body changing, one might also become happier.

The technology includes a camera that captures a user’s face and feeds it into a system that will reflect a slightly modified facial expression back on a mirror-like display.

Watch the mirror in action in this DigInfo TV feature:

The researchers conducted a study on the effectiveness of their mirror mind game to see if a subtle change in the reflected expression could influence the viewer’s mood. Their results showed the expression could change a viewer’s emotional state for the positive or the negative, depending on if a slight smile or frown were manipulated in the expression.

You can see more of the subtle expression changes in this earlier video from researcher Shigeo Yoshida:

“This suggested that we could artificially manipulate emotional states,” the research website stated.

(H/T: Gizmodo)