BOSTON – What if technology could sense human emotion and use that information to inform health care?
That was the question that was at the center of a panel discussion during the Connected Health Symposium last week, where representatives of Affectiva, SENSOREE Therapeutic Biomedia and Microsoft Research discussed how emotion-sensing technology will be used to change the way home health care is delivered in the future.
“We’re tracking why we feel the way we do today, but the question now is what do we do about it?” said Mary Czerwinski, research manager for Microsoft Research. “How do we get from empathy to impact?”
The panelists described products like emotion-detecting software, therapeutic biomedia and emotion sensors that help translate human emotions into data that can be used as another input string to give a more complete picture of a patient.
“Mental health and wellbeing are missing from the health care space of the whole person,” said Gabi Zijderveld, chief marketing officer for Affectiva. “There are opportunities in this realm for Alzheimer’s Disease patients and caregivers, parents of children with ADHD and many others.”
Czerwinski said that emotion-sensing technology will pave the way for personal emotional profiles to become part of a patient’s integrated medical record, showing how their emotions work.
“That profile could be married with other health data and if I step away from my norm, there could be immediate interventions,” Czerwinski said.
The panel agreed that emotion-sensing technology is already here, and the question now is how to harness it.
“It’s real, and it’s here now,” said Neidlinger.
While emotion sensing is a relatively new field, Affectiva has already amassed the largest emotional database in the world, with more than 4.75 million faces analayzed. Microsoft has been conducting studies in the field for years, gathering data from focus groups and participants; and SENSOREE has made advances on a line of wearable technology, including a Mood Sweater that has a high cowl neck and embedded sensors that produce biofeedback for the wearer while emitting LED colored lights.
“Stay tuned,” said Czerwinski. “This is going to be an amazing field, and it’s going to take off.”