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Modern 'Mood Ring' sensing technology
May 13, 2013
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by Mark Ollig

Those of you in high school during the mid-1970s will no doubt remember seeing them being worn by other students.

Mood rings were all the rage in pop culture starting around 1975.

When I was a sophomore in high school, many of the kids were wearing mood rings, or asking to wear one “to see if they really worked.”

When worn, the liquid crystal underneath the clear capsule covering on the ring would change colors based upon the “mood” or state of mind of the wearer.

It was said the color really changed because of the variance in body and surrounding air temperature.

However, it was more fun believing the mood ring was changing colors due to the emotions of the wearer.

A person wearing a mood ring was in a relaxed, calm, stress-free mood if the ring’s color was green or blue.

A yellowish color meant a person was in a state of heightened creativity, or in a light-hearted, humorous, happy, and fun mood.

Red was an indication of increased physical energy, stamina, passion, and vitality.

Brown was a sign of being nervous, and edgy.

Black suggested the ring wearer was in a tense, anxious, or overworked mood.

Gray revealed the person was under stress.

So, your question is whether yours truly wore a mood ring? Yes, of course I tried one on.

I recall the mood ring turning blue, signifying I was in a relaxed, peaceful state. Of course, I tried it on outside during the winter when the temperature was cold, so the bluish color was probably attributable to this.

Mood rings eventually went the way of the pet rock craze, although they remained a fashion accessory for a long time.

There’s an old saying, “What goes around, comes around.”

Let’s welcome back today’s new and improved individual mood sensor.

Yes indeed folks but this time it’s not a ring.

It’s a new smartphone app (application) advertised as Emotion Sense.

This app keeps track of a user’s emotions and moods via its algorithmic, behavioral pattern recognition abilities.

This is a free app, and is currently available for your Android smartphone.

Emotion Sense is the psychology research project being conducted by the University of Cambridge.

“Mobile phones represent an ideal computing platform to monitor behavior and movement, since they are part of the everyday life of billions of people,” as stated by a paper from the University of Cambridge Computer Lab.

In the past, savvy Internet social media users continually recorded, and publically broadcasted their daily life activities by wearing a video camera and voice recorder linked to the Internet.

This was called lifecasting.

Lifecaster’s would broadcast in real-time to an online social network their personally recorded diary, where it was viewed by the online public.

The University of Cambridge mentioned this, but said the persons monitoring their own behavior knew it was being monitored; in fact, they were probably overly aware of it, leading to biased psychology results when analyzed.

Mobile phones provide a more “unobtrusive” means of attaining the user’s true emotional behavior and interactions, states the paper.

User information is gathered from the output of the monitoring sensors in a smartphone.

Specific sensors are used to monitor a user’s speech, and recognize emotional behavior.

Each monitoring sensor will log all events into a “knowledge base,” which stores all the information obtained from the sensors within the smartphone.

Emotion Sense was designed by psychologists for everyday users, and patients being treated to chart their feelings.

The Emotion Sense app also interacts with a user by asking them to assess how they feel, using an “emotion grid” user feedback questionnaire.

Depending upon the user’s response, the smartphone app will then conduct a brief interactive survey, to focus more on the user’s particular emotional state.

Social psychology experiments will have a new perspective from the use of mobile sensing technology. Mobile sensing technology has the potential to provide better accuracy, and thus better results, according to the Cambridge University paper.

Cambridge University researchers collected 24 hours’ worth of information from 12 users who wore a Nokia 6210 mobile phone with Emotion Sense technology.

This information was run through various psychological benchmark tests.

“Behind the scenes, smartphones are constantly collecting data that can turn them into a key medical and psychological tool. Any smartphone now comes with numerous sensors that can tell you about aspects of your life, like how active you are, or how sociable you have been in the past 24 hours. In the long term, we hope to be able to extract that data so that, for example, it can be used for therapeutic purposes,” explained Dr. Neal Lathia, a researcher with the University of Cambridge Computer Lab.

The research paper concludes by saying the real-time information collected can be used by social scientists to recognize a person’s pattern of interaction, and provide psychological help for an individual user, or a patient.

To read the complete University of Cambridge paper about using mobile telephone sensing technology for social psychology research, go to http://tinyurl.com/cd2nfo6.

For a description of the Emotion Sense Android smartphone app, check out http://emotionsense.org.


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