Happylife-vignette-550x412
by Zoe Pollock

Nathan Yau reviews the eerie experiment that is Happylife, a smart-home machine that can monitor a family's moods by reading facial expressions with a thermal image camera. Eventually the system would be able to predict different emotional states, having accumulated data over various years. From a series of vignettes by a family with Happylife in their home:

We installed Happylife. Not much happened at first: an occasional rotation, a barely appreciable change in the intensity of light. But we felt it watching us, and knew that some kind of probing analysis had begun. After only a few months, we found ourselves anticipating the position of the dials. The individual displays rarely contradicted our expectations, but when they did it encouraged us to look inwardly at ourselves.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.