by Michele Banks in Tech on Wednesday 3 October 2012

Humans can tell instinctively whether other people are ill or embarrassed by observing their skin – whether it’s displaying a greenish pallor or a rosy blush. Doctors and scientists can notice more subtle effects caused by variations in the oxygenation of the blood. n innovative startup has now translated that knowledge into special filtered glasses called O2Amps that may have applications ranging from medicine to law enforcement to dating.

The glasses, produced by 2AI Labs, are based on the research of neuroscientist Mark Changizi. He writes, ‘The technology comes out of my research while at Caltech on the evolution of color vision in primates, where I provided evidence that color vision evolved to sense oxygenation modulations in the hemoglobin under the skin. Once we understand the connection between our color vision and blood physiology, it’s possible to build filters that further amplify our perception of the blood and the signals it provides’. 2AI is currently producing three different models of O2Amps aimed at medical professionals:

* a vein-finder, or oxygenation-isolator, that amplifies perception of oxygenation modulations under the skin, which could help medical workers improve the accuracy of needle-sticks, among other benefits;

* a trauma-detector, or hemoglobin-concentration-isolator, that amplifies perception of hemoglobin concentrations under the skin, with potential applications for sports and medicine

* a general clinical enhancer, or oxygenation-amplifier, that combines the best features of the first two.

However, Changizi notes that ‘because color vision evolved for everyday wear, so to speak, one of our largest markets is for everyday-wear sunglasses, to enhance one’s perception of the emotion, mood and health signals we evolved to detect with our color vision. For example, typical sunglasses shade the world but also end up shading one’s connections to other people; this is exemplified by the way people tip up their sunglasses to get a better look at someone. Our technology shades the world but not the social; for the O2Amps, one sees other people better by keeping them on, rather than tipping them up’. Sounds like the closest thing to real-life x-ray specs. Get yours first, before other people start seeing right through you.