How Sensor Data Gets Me EMOTIONAL!

How Sensor Data Gets Me EMOTIONAL!

By Sean Montgomery on Sep 1, 2019

Signals are constantly running throughout our bodies. Electrical, chemical, and mechanical messages carry highly amplified messages about our physical, emotional and psychological state from the decision-making centers in our brain to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems of the body that help the body prepare for “fight or flight” versus “rest and digest”. Evolutionarily these systems have been critical to avoid getting eaten by tigers, finding food, and conserving energy but in the 21st century with the help of carefully engineered sensors like EmotiBit, it’s possible to derive a moment-by-moment portrait of our emotional state. How this information about internal context might help you become a faster learner, share deeper empathy, or enjoy lower stress and better health will be the subject of a future post (so stay tuned!), but here I want to talk a little bit about biometrics, how to derive them, and what’s possible with state-of-the-art science & technology. To explain how that works, let’s start with some examples.

Lions, spiders, and snakes, oh my! (Fear)

For you to perceive a snake camouflaged in the jungle, the visual system in your brain has to work over-time detecting lines and colors and patterns, etc. But once your visual system, combined with memory and emotion centers in your brain detect “SNAKE!”, the fear alarm bells start ringing and your brain cranks up your body’s sympathetic “fight or flight” dial to 11! Your heart rate increases along with increased blood volume pulse (how much blood each heartbeat pushes out the body’s extremities), respiration rate and respiration 

depth increase. Your body temperature increases and a sweat gland in your skin activates, creating heightened and frequent electro-dermal responses (stay tuned for a future post discussing electro-dermal activity in more detail). Evolutionarily, all these changes in the body’s physiology are getting you ready to run away, and by sensing these biometric signals you can detect that fear response even without any verbal communication for physical movement.