MIT Media Lab spin-out mPath has come out with a device that can reveal and pinpoint emotions of the user wearing it. The device has been designed using wearable sensors analytics, and other technologies and brings out some interesting market research insights to help major companies refine their products.
“Right now, companies struggle to understand their customers’ emotional needs or wants,” says founder and CEO Elliot Hedman PhD ’12. “But if we listen a little to consumer emotions, there’s a lot of room for innovation.”
The device called the MOXO sensor looks like a bulky smartwatch and was co-invented by Hedman, MIT Professor Rosalind Picard and other MIT researchers. Placed on the wrist, it wirelessly measures changes in skin conductance which tell about the sympathetic nervous system activity and physiological arousal. An increase in the conductance results in stress and frustration, while a decrease means disinterest and boredom.
To get a more accurate picture of the human response the stress sensors were combined with GoPro cameras to capture the exact moment where a person looked at the emotional spike or dip. This technique was termed as "emototyping". This entire process creates a more in-depth, precise emotional profile of consumers than traditional market research.
One of mPath's unique project involved helping a toothpaste company understand people's expereince with brushing teeth. The mPath team gave users of the toothpaste a MOXO device and GoPro camera and measured their skin conductance. They measured little to no spike which signified that the users were bored. This helped the toothbrush company refine their product to make it more engaging for the user.
Hedman founded mPath in 2012, while still at MIT and the MOXO sensor was initially used to for studying stress levels of children with autism. Moving forward mPath has been speculated to do impactfull work in the lines of therapy, behaviour management and in massive open online courses (MOOCs), with aims of helping redesign curriculum and classroom experiences.