Can Biophysical Sensors Help Improve Our Social Relationships?

By January 21, 2013
montre informatique

This may seem an astonishing suggestion, but a group of academic researchers in Malaysia believe that measuring and analysing in real time people’s various body parameters could provide a basis for helping them to communicate better.

Can  biophysical  data  help  to  shed  light  on  human  personality  type  and  mood?  A  team of  researchers  at  the  Petronas  University  of  Technology  in  Malaysia,  who  have  been investigating the use of wireless sensors worn on the body or clustered on a bracelet, argue that  this  approach  enables  us  to  identify  a  person’s  emotional  state  and  may  therefore  also help  to  improve  interactions  with  others,  as  these  are  affected  by  emotions.  Embedded  in clothing as a ‘wearable’ device or implanted directly into our bodies, these sensors measure various  critical  parameters  –  body  temperature,  blood  pressure,  brain  impulses,  breathing rhythms,  etc.  This  approach  has  already  started  a  revolution  in  what  is  known  as  ‘remote’ healthcare and the Malaysian researchers argue that it can be applied to relationships as well: “A person’s character (personality type, mood and psychological condition) are determined in different contexts through these same parameters,” they point out.  And they see a useful application  for  this  methodology  in  the  world  of  work.  It  is  of  course  not  uncommon  for companies to put together teams based on a variety of personalities but the major drawback here identified by the Petronas University team is that such personality assessments are often carried out on the basis of a questionnaire.

Sensor, sensor on my wrist, what’s my mood today?

The Information sensors. With the system they envisage, all the data is transmitted periodically to a central point, the cluster head – which they have called an ACN node, referring to Aggregator, Classifier and Notifier – that could be carried as a ‘wrist device’. ACN nodes are used to collect data from the sensor nodes, aggregate the data locally and so determine a person’s personality that people in general are not yet able to work out for themselves their psychological state at his/her current mood and perhaps also “advise them how to behave with their counterparts,” suggest the researchers.

An end to disputes and divorce?

The Petronas Technology University team believe that the value of this type of system would be greatly enhanced if everyone carried such a device. Everyone would then be able to receive reliable, precise information not only on his/her own condition but also on that of friends and counterparts. This would of course require a secure protocol so as to ensure that we would not be system could guide us in our daily activities, and help us to avoid disappointments and avert a they perhaps be getting rather carried away with their ideas?  When they say their approach could do away with misunderstandings which lead “close friends to become alienated from one another”, “life partners to divorce” and “family members to drift apart”, be aiming a little too high…

Legal mentions © L’Atelier BNP Paribas