Wrist worn emotion sensor is like a mood ring for the 21st century

Trying to figure out what sets a person off, and what makes them happy, can be extremely difficult with autistic children who have trouble communicating. So this sensor keeps a record of the wearer's mood, allowing caregivers to make appropriate care choices.

The Q Sensor measures changes in skin temperature, motion, and skin conductivity, and uses this data to get an handle on the wearer's emotional state. This information can help people around the wearer know when a meltdown is about to happen, allowing them to diffuse the situation.

So far, studies have focussed on autistic children, but manufacturer Affectiva believes the Q Sensor will also be useful for people with epilepsy.

For someone who needs this kind of help, I'm sure the Q Sensor can be a great tool, but I think there an underlying way this technology could be abused. My fear is that this device could be seen as a kind of polygraph substitute by people who want to know how we feel about things. On the Affectiva website, they say the Q Sensor can be used to "provide an measure of a customer's engagement" in market research. That's pretty creepy sounding. We already have enough invasion of privacy without people trying to read our thoughts and feelings.

The Q Sensor will be available in a Beta test version to researchers and educators starting in November. Cost is about $2000.

Affectiva, via Technology Review

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