Another must-have weapon in the evil genius arsenal is the mind reading machine, and here comes the perfect way to generate hard cash when someone tells you "Penny for 'em…". The Japanese company Brain Function Lab has produced the Emotional Spectrum Analysis System to delve into your deepest feelings and plot them out like a weather chart.
The system looks like a knitted polka-dot woolly hat hooked up to a laptop, but is really a device that records electrical signals from ten different points on the scalp. By cunning analysis, it breaks these down into your levels of mental stress, joy, sadness/depression, and relaxation. The researchers claim that all emotions are composed of various mixes of these fundamental psychic notes, although I suspect that most emotions caused by being made to look like a toadstool would lack a couple of those components.
Sharp's already using this device to help design audio equipment -- although I'd probably relay my emotions on hearing music more accurately if asked by a petite Japanese researcher with a clipboard than if I was made to wear a Mr Blobby hat with electrodes. However, it can only be a matter of time before the most rapaciously exploitative of technological markets gets its hands on the gear. Mobile phone makers, stand by your soldering irons.
There are any number of services that can be sold on the back of this -- sending emoticons to your friends that accurately detect your state of mind and format themselves accordingly, remote lie-detectors to make sure your bird/bloke is really doing what they claim to be doing, even alerts for parents to make sure their teenage offspring aren't enjoying themselves too much.
It's not just evil repressive instincts that can be indulged, though. Imagine being able to video message your beloved a large set of interesting pictures of objects and finding out instantly which one is most preferred -- make Christmases and birthdays a lot less stressful.
That hat has got to go, mind.