Team of researchers at the Lancaster University School of Computing and Communications have developed smart technology in order to decipher people’s emotions. Designed to control affective disorders of people’s feelings, the newly invented smart product can be worn on the wrist; it heats up, squeezes, vibrates or even changes color, with reference to the person’s emotional state of mind. The new study is especially beneficial for people diagnosed with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders.
According to experts, the wrist band changes color based on the user’s emotional state. This is regarded as a breakthrough in deciphering emotional arousals, without having to refer to mobile or desktop devices.
“Knowing our emotions and how we can control them are complex skills that many people find difficult to master,” according to a co-author of the research study, Muhammad Umair. “We wanted to create low-cost, simple prototypes to support understanding and engagement with real-time changes in arousal. The idea is to develop self-help technologies that people can use in their everyday life and be able to see what they are going through. Wrist-worn private affective wearables can serve as a bridge between mind and body and can really help people connect to their feelings,” Umai adds referring to the new technology.
As per reports, previous research based on this kind of technology has centered on graphs and abstract visualizations of biosignals. However, they used traditional mediums of mobile and computer interfaces. The new study has especially focused on wearable technology, which uses body vibrations and sensations, as opposed to visual signals, to understand emotional arousals. As a result, the prototype provides real-time data and does not rely on historic information.
As part of the study, experts worked with thermochromic materials that changed color when heated up. This type of material also has the ability to vibrate and squeeze on the wrist. The study required users to wear the prototype for eight to 16 hours. The device was activated during activities such as work, play, while laughing, watching a movie or even during relaxing and being scared.
Through skin responses, the device picked up on arousal changes, with the help of a galvanic skin response. This measures the electrical conductivity of the skin. The results were then represented through various prototype designs. The smart materials were hence instant as well as constant and showed physical rather than visual output.
“Participants started to pay attention to their in-the-moment emotional responses, realizing that their moods had changed quickly and understood what it was that was causing the device to activate. It was not always an emotional response, but sometimes other activities – such as taking part in exercise – could cause a reaction,” said Umair.
One of the most important discoveries of the device is that it helped participants to realize previously undiscovered emotional responses. Further research will dedicate design opportunities for heightened emotions, thus allowing people to comprehend sense and emotional understanding.