Feel factor: Devices to detect and respond to users' moods

Computers may not yet have feelings, but the day seems to be quickly approaching when they will be able to detect and respond to how you are feeling.

This article was changed April 9 to correct the date of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Computers may not yet have feelings, but the day seems to be quickly approaching when they will be able to detect and respond to how you are feeling.

Cogito Corp., a Boston-based company, is currently working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop Cogito Companion, a smartphone application that gathers usage data and analyzes it for patterns of psychological distress. 

The application monitors the phone’s location and time of use, and logs phone calls and text messages. Participants can choose to fill out questionnaires about their mood and can record audio diaries. Cogito’s speciality – automated speech analysis – is performed on the audio diaries.  In principle, the same analysis could be applied to phone conversations.

Coincidentally, the application was being tested in April 2013 in Boston when two bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston marathon, giving Cogito a unique pre-and post-disaster data set for understanding posttraumatic stress disorder.

Dell's new research division is also working on developing a variety of computer-embedded sensors intended to detect users' moods.

"We believe that the next step in providing contextual awareness is to provide computers with better cues for actual user intent," said Jai Menon, Dell's chief research officer.  "Dell Research is exploring the potential applications of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) as one element of an approach to providing computers with better cues for actual user intent."

According to Menon, the types of sensor data Dell researchers are currently experimenting with integrating include heart rate, perspiration and the like. 

"Biosignal sensors may currently have niche or very specialized uses, but we feel that they have the potential to become part of the suite of sensors that would be broadly used in future computer systems," Menon said.  The focus of Dell’s experiments is to better understand the capabilities of sensors like electroencephalograms (EEG) to determine  if the data is reliable and trustworthy. “How reliably does data from a consumer-grade EEG sensor reflect the actual mental state of a person? Do multi-channel EEG systems provide better fidelity? Do other types of sensors provide better accuracy? Can correlating data from multiple different sensor types provide superior fidelity?”

Menon said Dell is also interested in whether  there are patterns of biosensor data that are shared across all users or if a system using biosensor data must be trained for each different user.

Dell’s work is still in its early stages, according to Menon, too early to talk about specific products.  But he said he foresees potential applications in healthcare, education, gaming and the workplace.

"If a game could sense the player was bored, maybe it is time to make things more challenging or change the pace," Menon said.  "Similarly, sensing frustration in the player, a game may offer a clue for solving a particularly challenge. Games are designed to incite emotion: joy, triumph, amusement, terror, fascination. If the game could detect these states in users, it opens up the possibility to customize and optimize the experience for each player."

In the workplace, if your computer senses you are working intensely, it might divert incoming phone calls directly to voice mail.  A teacher might use the embedded sensors to learn how engaged the class is and to change tactics when engagement flags. 

"The possibilities are endless," Menon said. "Our core intent is to make the capabilities of biosensors part of the portfolio of everyday capabilities that will bring value to people and improve end-user experience. Biosensors offer the promise of allowing computers to be much more intuitive about needs and mental state of users." 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.