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Getting A Grip On Empathetic Technology

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When we hear technology, we think of the coolest gadgets and machines. But something we probably never connect technology to is our emotions. We believe machines should just do the basic cool tasks of getting the basics done. They help us communicate, move and aid everything that has to do with our outer bodies. But it is getting more personal. It seems like machines may now be able to decipher much more. Our insides might not too far off from empathetic technology’s reach.


Smart devices may not only do what they are told, but they are probably now capable of much more. They might be able to tell you how you are feeling inside.

Researchers have been able to devise ways to connect technology to human conditions. They believe that it has the potential to help clarify mental and physical situations.


The Chief Scientist at Dolby Laboratories in San Francisco, California, USA, Poppy Crum, says empathetic technology is technology using the state of the human mind to decide how it will respond and make decisions. It will essentially use data from human emotions to carry out tasks.


But how can machines detect our emotions? Crum pointed out that our pupils tend to dilate when we are feeling overwhelmed or struggling to understand something.


Neuroscientist and technologist Dr Poppy Crum gave a TED talk on “Technology That Knows What You Are Feeling”.


A pupillometry research, carried out for the past ten years, showed interesting results. By measuring the diameter of a person’s public or examining their behaviour, they can track cognitive processes. It can measure memory, mental load, confusion and attention.


Also, skin emissions and changes in its electrical resistance can predict anger, frustration, stress or excitement. Scientists say skin conducts or responses can be tools to predict emotional response to watching a comedy flick or favourite football team.


Researchers have also discovered that human beings emit certain chemicals when they are afraid or lonely. Now, with smart glasses, they can now detect these changes in human reactions.


With technology like thermal imaging, microphones, cameras and some measuring devices, experts can now create data about a person’s mental wellbeing. Artificial Intelligence is also a viable tool used by researchers to gather data. They can use pitch-reflex, use of pronouns and syntactic patterns to detect schizophrenia or depression.


They also think this technology can help people feel the pain of others, thereby making them more empathetic towards sufferers. A good example is a machine that tries to make men feel the pain of childbirth so that they can understand how bad women have it. That way, they can be more understanding of the pain women have to deal with.


Businesses can also take advantage of the technology to create more user-friendly experiences for products. They can now know how people feel about certain products and services using this technology instead of relying on unreliable feedback.

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