Empathic technologies that can ‘feel’ you

| Michaela Nesvarova

Lighting that knows when you are sad and tries to cheer you up. Or a bracelet that measures your mood and helps you control your emotions. Those are examples of emphathic technologies, a research field UT scientists are involved in and the topic of tomorrow’s symposium organized in the DesignLab.

‘Empathic technology is technology that is able to recognize and interpret people’s emotions and uses this to generate suitable responses in return,’ explains Khiet Truong, a researcher from the HMI group and one of the main people behind the Symposium on Empathic Technologies, which is to be held on the 19th of May at the University of Twente.

Light that improves your mood

The event is organized by the 4TU.NIRICT Empathic Lighting consortium, which also includes UT researchers and aims to generate new collaborative projects on the topic of Empathic Computing. Although the symposium carries a broader theme of all emphatic technologies, 4TU.NIRICT focuses on one technology in particular: lighting systems. 

Lighting that influences people’s mood, to be more precise. ‘The main idea is to develop adaptive lighting used in homes for elderly people,’ clarifies Truong. ‘Elderly people are often lonely and therefore can be depressed or sad. We’d like to measure their mood using wearables and use lighting to improve their emotional state.’

Bracelet, smartphone, lamp

This adaptive lighting system is currently being made by an HMI student at the UT. This graduation project, supervised by Truong and Randy Klaassen, uses bracelets that are equipped with sensors and detect changes in the user’s mood. Once a change is detected, the bracelet sends data to a connected smartphone, on which the user can input more details. Based on that, the setup should automatically change the color, temperature and intensity of light in order to help the person to feel better. ‘Our goal is to test this technology in senior homes soon,’ mentions Truong.

Symposium

If you’d like to learn more about emphathic technologies and topics such as affective computing, user modeling, wearables, internet of things or human-media interaction, you are still invited to join the symposium taking place tomorrow in the DesignLab. The speakers include Hatice Gunes from the University of Cambridge and Marc Hassenzahl from the University of Siegen.

‘It’s a very multidisciplinary field and we tried to attract many various scientists, so I think this is a great opportunity for students and researchers to network,’ says Khiet Truong, who you can contact to register for the event. (Registration is required.)