On the blog Architectradure by Catti Vaucelle, I noticed this bracelet (concept) that supposedly senses your emotion by reading heart rate and skin temperature. Then, you can also share your emotion through the bluetooth connection with someone who wares another Sense bracelet.
Mapping emotion to biometric data is a difficult research question, especially when it supposedly presents itself as a nonverbal communication device. What is communicated here? What is the language? What is the feedback loop? Many devices from this category deal with the same complexity: how to map these data to a visual or haptic language.
I have to agree with Catti here on the difficulty to translate the data. By measuring heart rate or skin temperature/ sweat, the only thing that can be concluded from the data is whether there is some form of arousal or not. It is impossible to translate this to an ’emotion’ like ‘being surprised’. In that way, the other person you are communicating with, still doesn’t know what it is that you are feeling besides that you are experiencing a change in ’emotional state’.
Something that it reminds me of is the Hug Shirt by CuteCircuit. This wearable device also works with bluetooth, but the feedback it gives is much more clear. The feeling of touch does not need (too much) interpretation when it is being transmitted. Therefore, when someone gives such a virtual hug, the receiver immediately ‘feels what it is all about’.
What I do like about concepts like the Sense bracelet is the use of technology to find ways to communicate and relate differently to each other. In that sense, emotional design is about using technology and design to create new paths through which we can experience some of our most basic experiences: emotional experiences.