The Fühl-o-meter (Feel-o-meter), also known as the Public Face, is an art installation, which is probably good because if it were an official civic amenity it might be a little Orwellian. But as art it’s cool! The idea is that cameras scan the faces of people passing through the city, and analyze their expressions to assess the prevailing mood. Then the Public Face reflects that mood — happy, sad, or indifferent — with its changeable mouth shape. Here’s a video of it in action in Lindau, Germany, where it appeared last year:

This brings to mind Bhutan’s “gross national happiness” indicator. Residents’ happiness is an important component in making a city or country thrive, but it rarely gets analyzed or acted on. A crude measure like the Fühl-o-meter is probably not the solution to that, but it’s a pretty rad-looking reminder that public happiness is worth paying attention to.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!