The advancement of technology has made many impossible things possible, so it’s not surprising that in the near future, your dance moves could be used to identify you.
A new study by Finland’s University of Jyväskylä has utilized machine learning and motion-tracking technology to figure out how different people move to music. As it turns out, your dance moves are as unique as your fingerprints and can be used to identify you with a remarkable level of accuracy. The research team also said that the way you dance could be linked to understanding your personality and gaining insights into the type of mood you’re in.
Dr. Pasi Saari, co-author of the study thinks that an individual’s dance style is like a moving fingerprint. “Each person has a unique movement signature that stays the same no matter what kind of music is playing.”
As published in the Journal of New Music Research, 73 volunteers danced to eight genres of Western music that included blues, rap, jazz, pop, country, dance/electronica, metal, and reggae. They were told to dance in any way that felt natural. Motion-tracking technology monitored several key points on their bodies, observing the speed and direction they were moving in.
The initial goal of the study was to determine if computers could infer which genre of music participants were dancing to by studying their movements. However, the tech proved especially bad at guessing the genre. Based on the findings of the study, metal was the “easiest” genre to guess as it was correctly identified about 53 percent of the time. Pop music was the hardest, recognized less than 10 percent of the time.
Though the computer proved to be terrible at doing what it was created for, only able guessing the music genre correctly 30 percent of the time, it revealed a hidden talent the researchers hadn’t anticipated. It was able to identify the person dancing solely by their body movements with 94 percent accuracy. With 73 participants in the study, this was no mean feat.
In 2017, similar research revealed that a person’s walk can also provide insight into their personality and emotional state.
The Jyväskylä research team is confident that their study won’t be used for mass-surveillance (at least not for now). They aim to provide more reliable evidence about what our movements reveal about our identity and our culture.
Dr. Emily Carlson, the study’s lead author, said they are more interested in insights about human musicality than “applications like surveillance.” She went on to explain, “We have a lot of new questions to ask, like whether our movement signatures stay the same across our lifespan, whether we can detect differences between cultures based on these movement signatures, and how well humans are able to recognize individuals from their dance movements compared to computers.”