Alex James is something of a contradiction. He’s one of the hottest names in the valley with headhunters calling daily with offers that he generally ignores. He still lives with his parents although on paper he’s one of the most successful men around. His app “Emotional Compass,” EC as it’s better known, has become the hottest program available for use with Ceremplants. An estimated 70% of all users having downloaded the program, with most admitting to use it to find a date at least once. A dream come true for most tech professionals, but not for Alex. In fact, he wishes most of those users would stop.
Alex built his Ceremplant app to help those with certain medical conditions, which may seem strange to some, but Alex is quick to point out that the ubiquitous implant has its origins in the medical field. He says,
“People forget that these devices were intended to help those with cortical visual impairments (CVI). Vereserum unveiled the small injectable chips back in 2025, and had such promising initial results that the device was fast-tracked by the FDA. Unfortunately, at that time we were on the verge of the boom in personalized DNA medicine. Reparre Biologics had a number of projects also on the fast-track, and they came up with an effective stem-cell therapy solution before the Ceremplants were done testing. Vereserum ended up pulling funding and opened the code. Lots of people starting playing around with the implants and the next big boom began.”
It wasn’t just bio-hackers who took an interest. A number of other companies and the military were also interested. Veil travel was becoming more popular than ever, and with the increase in travel came an increase in the concern about terror attacks. “Everyone was looking for an effective solution that they could have ready in a short period of time,” James says. The U.S. military started a facial recognition program with a twist using the Vereserum technology. Instead of trying to identify individuals, the military system was designed to recognize emotions through micro expressions and body language. It was their hope that a group of security personnel equipped with Ceremplants running the software, would be able to spot potential threats before they had a chance to act.
“The program was scrapped for a number of budgetary issues but the work was good. I was amazed at how far they had gotten when I stumbled on it one night. I could see the potential immediately. I was so excited that I don’t think I slept for the first few days,” Alex says. He assembled a small team, and in just 16 months had the first version of Emotional Compass available for download.
“We started refining the the program with the help of body language specialists, animal experts, and therapists. It was my goal to build a system that could help those suffering from certain medical conditions like Asperger Syndrome, or traumatic brain injuries navigate social situations. EC would send a stream of real-time emojis to users who had trouble recognizing social cues. If you were in a job interview, and your interaction was going well, you’d see a stream of smiling faces. If you were doing something that made the other person uncomfortable you’d see sad faces, that was the general idea. We even got the system to recognize a number of animal postures, and what they meant. EC could effectively warn you if a dog was friendly or not with just a look. We helped so many people it was amazing! We had thousands of thank-yous come pouring in from people who could finally get through an interview thanks to our work. We got letters from kids who made friends for the first time, and could finally feel good about going to school. It was a great time around here. We released our second version 4 months later, knowing that we were making a difference. Then we started to hear how others were using our technology.”
There was no doubt that Alex and his team did great work, and it did not go unnoticed. Others soon took an interest, but not in the way James ever envisioned. A number of gambling related derivatives began to appear. The system was so good at reading body language and facial expressions that it was almost as if a user could see the other players cards. Most casinos require access to gambler’s Ceremplants so it didn’t become a major issue, but it did allow Alex to see the beginning of the “corruption” of his technology. He had no idea just how popular EC was about to become and what it would be famous for.
James isn’t sure who started using his technology for romantic endeavors first. “All of a sudden everyone was using it to hook-up,” he says. EC had become very popular in clubs. The system designed to help the differently abled was also very good at detecting potentially receptive dates. “Sadly, this is the innovative spirit that drives the valley these days,” he says. Word spread quickly. Within a year of the release of EC 2.0, it has become the most downloaded app ever created with no sign of slowing.
“It’s changed the game around here,” an anonymous club owner says. “It hasn’t really increased revenue but we do see a lot more people every night. It’s cut out a lot of the small talk, a lot of every kind of talk really. A few months ago you could barely hear the music over the chatter on a busy night. Now it’s mostly people sipping on drinks and scanning the room like they’re kids looking for their favorite cereal at the store. Honestly, It’s a little creepy,” he adds.
Alex agrees. “While I’m open to any unintended use of technology, I don’t think this is a good one. I created this to help people who were unable to integrate well into society, not to silently hook up at a bar. I sometimes think it would have been better to never have released EC despite how many it’s helped. I worry that in the end it will have the opposite effect on society than what I intended.”