Project

Project Us

Copyright

Valdemar Dunry

Valdemar Dunry

Inspiration

Empathy—our ability to feel someone's emotional state while preserving the knowledge about its personal origin—stands at the core of our existence as humans. It has dramatically contributed to our evolution as a species, and remains a key driver of the way we experience life. Being empathetic can make us more effective at work, less stressed, it can improve our relationship satisfaction, give us a deeper sense of connection and attachment. Still, we sometimes find it difficult to empathise with others, and for some poorly understood reasons, some people tend to face more challenges than others. Technologically-enabled solutions, ranging from virtual reality (VR) to tangible avatars, have shown promise in this direction. Yet, existing techniques tend to be difficult and expensive to deliver (e.g., requiring VR headsets), and often disconnected from daily life.

Goals

Project Us aims to break this barrier and enable people to learn to become more empathetic, by leveraging the power of machine learning and wearable devices. “Us” is a wearable textile device that can sense the wearer’s biosignal… View full description

Inspiration

Empathy—our ability to feel someone's emotional state while preserving the knowledge about its personal origin—stands at the core of our existence as humans. It has dramatically contributed to our evolution as a species, and remains a key driver of the way we experience life. Being empathetic can make us more effective at work, less stressed, it can improve our relationship satisfaction, give us a deeper sense of connection and attachment. Still, we sometimes find it difficult to empathise with others, and for some poorly understood reasons, some people tend to face more challenges than others. Technologically-enabled solutions, ranging from virtual reality (VR) to tangible avatars, have shown promise in this direction. Yet, existing techniques tend to be difficult and expensive to deliver (e.g., requiring VR headsets), and often disconnected from daily life.

Goals

Project Us aims to break this barrier and enable people to learn to become more empathetic, by leveraging the power of machine learning and wearable devices. “Us” is a wearable textile device that can sense the wearer’s biosignals and seamlessly convey them to their interlocutor during any type of interaction. This technologically enhanced feedback loop aims to enable each partner to "feel" the other’s emotions and corroborate it with context data, in a way that could result in a gradual training of their “empathy muscle."  

State of the Project

Currently focused on romantically involved couples, Project Us follows a participatory design approach, working together with couples to understand the needs of romantic partners and identify the best venues for intervention. We also inform our work with clinical psychologists with extensive expertise in therapy and biofeedback,  and neuroscientists and specialists in affective computing to navigate the complex technological challenges.

Our first prototype consists of a pair of connected bracelets that perform live monitoring of  emotional arousal, and communicate via haptic feedback to the partner when intense emotions are detected  (see FAQ for details).  This device has been tested for technical functioning. The prototype is being tested with human subjects. 

Copyright

Camilo Rojas

Copyright

Camilo Rojas

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What means emotional arousal?

    Human emotions can be conceptualised using a two-dimensional model defined by emotional arousal and valence. Emotional arousal is also known as the intensity of our emotional state, and valence describes the extent to which an emotion is positive or negative. More information can be found here and here.

  2. How can I contribute?

    We deeply value feedback from people who are interested in exploring our devices. In the future, we will recruit for research studies related to our projects. If you provide your contact information here, we will reach out to you if we are recruiting for a study that might be of interest to you.