Technology 3 min read

Wearable Device Provides Real-Time Insight Into People's Emotions

A new wearable device developed by researchers at Lancaster University could potentially help people with affective disorders keep their emotions in check.

Image Credit: Paul Turner/Lancaster University

Image Credit: Paul Turner/Lancaster University

Imagine a wearable device that signals your emotions. For example, when you get angry, it could light up, squeeze your wrist, or vibrate to make you aware of your feelings and help you better control it.

That’s what the researchers at Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications have developed.

Thanks to these smart materials on wrist-worn prototypes, people with affective disorders like anxiety, bipolar disorders, and depression can conveniently monitor their emotions.

The color of the wristband changes as the wearer’s emotions increases or decreases. That way, users can easily see or feel what’s happening without looking at their smartphone’s screen or desktop.

Speaking about the technology, co-author of the study, Muhammad Umair said:

“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.”

Previous works on wearable techs capable of reading emotions have focused more on showing data on smartphone screen or desktop interface.

Unfortunately, the information is usually too complicated for average users. These include abstract visualizations of biosignals and graphs. Also, since it’s a history of their emotion or feelings, users could not act in real-time.

That’s where the new wearable device shines.

Instead of depending on just visual signals, the researcher went for other sensory cues like tightening feeling, heat sensation, and vibration. As a result, the wearable tech provides real-time data which users can act on.

Image courtesy of Paul Turner/Lancaster University

How the Wearable Device Provides Real-Time Insight Into Wearer’s Emotion

To create the sensation, the researchers used thermochromic materials that’s changes color with an increase in temperature. Also, they included devices that are capable of squeezing the wrist or vibrating.

Next, the researchers invited several participants to wear the prototype for eight to sixteen hours. During this period, the participants had to report what they were doing when the device activated.  These include activities and emotions such as laughing, working, or watching a movie, being scared, etc.

A skin response sensor embedded in the wearable device picks up the users’ emotional arousal through galvanic skin response. Then, it measures the electrical conductivity of the skin and presents it in physical output based on the prototype’s design.

It worked! The users started paying better attention to feelings that they were unaware of beforehand.

Muhammad noted:

“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.”

The researchers believe that a better understanding of the materials – including their qualities – is necessary to open up new design opportunities. This could ultimately lead to better wearable techs that’ll give users a better understanding of their emotions.

Read More: Hand Motion Sensing Upgrade Make Smartest Wearables Ever

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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