Moodmetric and quantified inner state

Guest post by Matti Nelimarkka

 

Before Christmas, I took part in research where I read news and my emotional state was monitored via Moodmetric. Thus, it was rather classical in the field-study, trying to validate if the technology and data analysis strategy can be used outside laboratories too. I’m waiting to hear the results, the challenge with psychophysiological measurements is noisiness, and doing the measurements when I’m under blanket or riding the bus should just generate more noise. But science aside, let’s speak my experience.

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Once monitored, humans are often more conscious about their activities. I know this as the new effect but different fields approach this naturally using their own terminology for this well phenomena. What this meant for me was a rather weird experience of higher than normal ambiguity or unsureness about my own feelings. First, the need to label my emotions as well as being measured on those might have lead to social conformity; the need to report and feel the experiences one might experience.

More interestingly, towards the end I had difficulty to acknowledge my emotions. Naturally, Finnish news might not be the most interesting and emotion triggering material out there, but I think it wasn’t just about this. Instead, I believe that the knowledge of “scientific” measurements and my trust towards technology lead to the question: should the machine already know what I’m experiencing, why am I part of the loop here? I tried to outsource the interpretation of my emotional state to the magical ring, instead of asking myself these questions. Considering how vital part of humanity emotions are, it is somewhat worrying that I rather voluntarily left the task to the machine ands begs for me the question, at what point I’m no longer capable of understanding myself due to trusting these technologies too much?

Well, moving away from this type of autobiography to see what academia is saying on this. Unfortunately, I’m more familiar with the empirical work even while the real question here is more philosophical. Study on the feedback loops of psychophysiological adaptive system have recently gained some attraction in academia. Snyder et al (2015). studied both individual and group work situations aiming to support mindfulness through an adaptive psychophysiological system, MoodLight. They observed participants feeling somewhat weird after a system presented their internal state to them, but also trusted the output of the system:

For example, one participant felt that she was highly aroused, “stressed” in her words, although the output of the lights was a steady blue-violet. Rather than questioning the accuracy of the reading, she concluded, “I guess I’ve gotten better at not being totally enraged.”

In group situation, participants explained how they were not sure who is affecting the output in the end. Thus, based on my experiences and a super-shallow academic reading we can acknowledge the interesting effect these tools have in everyday life, even the awkwardness related to constant self-monitoring. Maybe an interesting design challenge would be considering how we relate to these technologies, more specially how we ensure that people still are sure of their own inner state – no matter what the sensors think.

Cross posted from Science & Industry

New Moodmetric features: Emotion level alert and Step counter

The Moodmetric Ring as a Moodring

The new functions in the Moodmetric Ring help you to better recognize and understand your emotions. The app shows your reactions and emotional levels just like before. In addition two new indicators visualize your emotional state directly on your ring:

Calm mind indicator

Taking a moment to meditate or just need to stop your mind from wandering for a few minutes?

The Moodmetric number tells what is your emotional level on a scale from 0 to 100. If your Moodmetric number is below 15 for five minutes, a green led illuminates.

High emotion level alert

If your Moodmetric number is above 75 for five minutes, a red led begins to blink.

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High level can mean great excitement, stress or anxiety. If your emotional level is high for long periods, you might deplete your energy resources quickly.

You can turn both of these functions off, if you do not wish the ring itself to display your mood.

 

Exercise is medicine

The Moodmetric Ring counts your steps as any step counter.

The steps taken per day are shown on the app below the MoodFlower in thousand steps. If you reach the recommended daily dose of 10 000 steps, you´ll get an orange circle around that day in the month view.

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You can follow your daily average MM figure and steps. More steps might indicate a lower number telling about calmer mind.

 

Practice your mind

Mindfulness or meditation exercise in the middle of day might give an extra mental boost for the rest of your working day. Measure it with the Moodmetric Practice for a visual presentation. Learn about yourself, what do you need around you to have the most calming experience?

The new log function records the length and score of each practise. You can follow your progress and better understand the correlation between a calm mind and and your overall mood and environment.

 

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The dark circle around a day number tells that you have done the Practice that day. The orange circle you gain after taking 10 000 steps on a day.

 

Assembling the Rings

Emotion load indication through electrodermal activity or skin conductance measurement is a rising trend in the modern wearable technology. Most manufacturers use the word stress as a synonym for emotional load.
Wearables are typically forced to use dry skin electrodes in varying conditions, with movement present. Ideally the system should be able to detect, interpret and visualize underlying electrodermal activity changes caused by autonomous nervous system reactions.
Typically the following challenges are present:
• Dry and sweaty hands produce autonomic responses with significantly different amplitudes
• Different people produce significantly different response amplitudes
• Analysis is subject to constant motion artifacts
The Moodmetric algorithm is developed to produce higher lever emotional information of the wearer, based on the raw conductivity signal received.

 

The first Moodmetric rings have been produced. The ring is improved version of the beta sample, that has been in user testing since October 2014. The electronics manufacturing and 3D-printing of the covers of the new version was made in August 2015. The stone assembly could now be completed:

 

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The two steel rings with an insulation in between is the actual sensor needed to detect the changes in skin conductivity. The ring comes in four sizes: US (6.5, 8, 10 and 12.5), EU (17, 18,5, 20 and 22 mm). It is exchangeable which enables several users to the same stone. This reduces cost but note: excessive swapping causes the snaps to wear out.

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The final product is small and lightweight. It connects with the Moodmetric app automatically and displays your emotional intensity real-time.

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New technology for workplace wellness

Meditating business partners

Emotional health as a part of workplace wellness programs has begun to enter organizations. Active tracking and measuring are also new to employee health. Moodmetric combines all this and brings emotion measurement to the office.

The Moodmetric technology is based on measuring small conductivity changes in skin which tell about emotional reactions. A smartphone app gives you both live data and long term trends. Moodmetric helps to manage stress by identifying high and low activity of mind during the day.

Moodmetric provides a simple and nonintrusive way to measure emotional load at work. It also supports in meditation and mindfulness exercises.

 

Examples for workplace

Below are examples on how you can support emotional well-being at work with Moodmetric measurement. You can enhance your wellness program by adding this new component to it – work together with your employee health partner to create the best program for you.

Measuring emotional wellbeing

Using the Moodmetric ring for 2-4 weeks gives a good picture of emotional load and how it is distributed over workdays. Stressful meetings, and calm periods of the days are well visible. The daily average figure shows if there is a shift towards higher or lower emotional levels during the measurement period. Analyzing the results together with a coach or a psychologist helps to better understand the current state of mind at work.

Stress management training programme

Are you already aware that you experience a heavy emotional load? You can wear the Moodmetric ring at work for 1-2 weeks and meet with you coach once a week. An individual programme can be drawn based on measurement results. It can combine mindfulness and breathing exercises, small breaks outside – all during the working day. A second sequence of the Moodmetric measurement can be done in one to two months.

Measuring mindfulness or meditation

The Moodmetric app contains an exercise to measure calmness of mind. A clear curve is drawn during meditation showing how well the focus is kept. This is a great tool to take a measured break, even for 10 minutes during the day. Any disturbing thought declines the performance, so the result motivates to really clear the mind. If you are new to meditation or mindfulness, it is good to start with a guided exercise.

Specifications

– Battery life: ~40 hours
– Charging time: 1,5 hours
– Memory: 270 hours
– Bluetooth range: 5 meters
– Compatibility: iOS – (iPhone 4S or newer, iPads using bluetooth4)

 

 

Smaller and Smarter version now available

We are happy to inform that we have completed the design of a completely new version of the Moodmetric Ring! It has several improvements compared to the current beta, that was introduced at the end of 2014.

The beta version is fully functional and has been heavily tested for ten months. Both the ring and app have worked very well and according to all expectations.

We have received a lot of feedback, which mostly concern about aesthetics of the ring.  Size matters and we have continuously worked on getting the ring even smaller. The main factor is the performance of the electronics module, leading to what kind of battery it requires.

After a six month development process we have managed to significantly reduce the size of the module, hence the “stone” of the ring. This is a great achievement and we are proud to present a perfect example of an electronics miniaturisation project. After all, a reference device used in laboratories is size of a butter packet! In the picture below the Moodmetric ring on a very narrow finger:

 

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New features include an alternating current measurement, which prevents oxidation of the ring. Charging and low battery indication leds are added based on the test user feedback, and several other small adjustments have been made.

The Moodmetric app is free to download from the AppStore and works together with your ring immediately. It shows live emotion data always when you have the app open. The continuously updating Moodmetric number tells your emotional intensity level and is comparable among different users.

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The design and visual aspects are extremely important for us. However, we can not yet provide as many design variants as requested. We hope to be in a position to offer a selection of rings to fit the taste of both women and and men in the near future, and will let you know as soon as we have news about this.

We will produce an initial batch of the new, smaller version of the Moodmetric ring in just a couple of weeks.

Please contact us at [email protected] to order one of the first samples.

See here how the rings were manufactured http://www.moodmetric.com/assembling-the-rings/

 

Virtual reality gaming experience measured by Moodmetric

Today I had a chance to participate a brand new gaming experience pilot. Without revealing too much of the plot, our purpose to save the community living in an underground space. Everything involved latest technology, smartphones, video content and the most exciting of all, the drama ended with an Oculus Rift experience!

The game was played in pairs. My companion was a young man with serious gaming background. For contrast, the last game I myself have played was Tetris in the 80´s. I equipped us both with the Moodmetric rings and the camera followed closely both us and our emotional metrics during the game.

We set off to the spooky basements and were told to lie down on narrow beds in a tiny cellar. A comforting voice told us to relax, breath and forget everything in our past. At this point I really did a breathing exercise and got my Moodmetric number very low. Soon we were told to start our mission which got more and more exciting towards the end.

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The game lasted 45 minutes and finished with frightening content created by Oculus Rift glasses. Below you see my emotional intensity number climbing upto 99 towards the end!

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Well, frightening just for me.. The young man beside me had his emotional level dropping towards the end, he was certainly more comfortable with the experience. Here a capture of his data downloaded just after the game showing calmer mind at the end of the game.

I was quite relieved to get out but he would have liked to have more action, time pressure and zombies if possible. This was great, I can recommend this to anyone, but will skip anything with virtual horror in the future. The Moodmetric data tells what is good amount of excitement for each of us.

Moodmetric Software Development Kit now available

Moodmetric now offers you the opportunity to include ring support in your own app. Emotional intensity tracking provides unique data to be used in applications only limited by imagination:

  • digital health

  • product marketing, product testing

  • music

  • entertainment

  • gaming

  • dating…

The data available for developers is based on the Moodmetric number, ranging from 0 to 100 and describing how strongly the wearer of the ring is feeling.

Moodmetric offers a beta license of our software development kit free of charge until release of the final licence. An interface is documented directly to the ring to make sure that you can run your application on any platform, as long as it supports Bluetooth 4.0. We provide full documentation for the interface and also example applications for iOS and Android. We also provide technical support to help you get going.

Some features in more detail (you will have the full description in the SDK package)

– The MM number notification tells if the person is very stressed or emotionally loaded. High MM notification is issued when MM number is elevated for over 5 minutes.
– The Relax notification tells if the person has successfully managed to relax for example in a meditation exercise. Relax notification is issued when MM number is low for over 5 minutes. This feature requires a ring with application version of 1.0.1 or above.
– The strong reaction notification tells if a strong emotional reaction has been detected at a certain moment. You can test responses e.g. to images and sounds.

Apply for a licence through the SDK form on our site/contacts or at [email protected]

 tools

Startup developing a hardware product

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Productizing means bringing a new product, service or feature from an idea to a commercial product. Even something seemingly simple, say a shovel, needs countless steps from the first sketch to a shop.

The Moodmetric Ring is an embedded system, i.e. an equipment guided by an in-built computer, in this case a processor. It has required the development of the measurement system, the ´computer´ and the software guiding the measurement. All this is a significant amount of work in addition to building up the hardware of chosen components.

When a product, new version or feature is developed inside an existing organization, the resources are in place: you have the hardware development department, software/embedded software development department, prototype production line and a test laboratory filled with equipment specific for the needs of the particular industry.

In a startup there is normally nothing at all, just an idea. How is a complex development work possible?

The most important thing is the team: everyone should be top-tier and know absolutely the latest of relevant technology. There are no bosses or internal audits, all issues need to be discovered and managed within the team. For a product like the Moodmetric ring the knowledge of signal processing, biosensor technology, algorithm development and software development have been in great hands, which has enabled a leap that is hard to believe even when seeing it happening next to me.

There need to be third parties involved, small electronics and manufacturing shops for prototyping and development. A good network of local SME tech industry is always needed when starting of development of any device. Due to our backgrounds in engineering and manufacturing, this has been well covered.

The most important thing nro 2 is the customer. Which in the beginning is not yet there. The search for the customer needs to being at the same time as the idea of a product first crosses the inventor´s mind. Where, who? A startup likes often to keep the invention secret as long as possible, which certainly is wise. But without a customer feedback, the product will not hit it.

We found the initial customers very early. Then we found more customers, totally different demographic and market. And more.. This is maybe the most confusing time period: you develop the product, you make prototypes, you ask the customer opinions and all the time you are insecure are you heading to the right market. We just had to continue and take decisions on the way until we felt this is getting right.
A very important concept is the minimum viable product Eric Ries: The Lean Startup. This is the first concept to test with a real user, and does not have to look like the final product at all. Ours was like this:

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For an architect an MVP can be a cardboard box and for a computer game developer a sketch. Just to test the initial idea and start collecting feedback from early on.

We have all worked in big organizations and it is very refreshing to develop a product in a startup mode. Again, no bosses, no internal audits, no bureaucracy (except for what you decide to implement), nothing formal, only the common objective and total freedom around it. When things are getting ready and there are more people and parties around, the freedom gradually gets less. Suddenly a startup realizes being a big organization and someone asks you to report your workhours in the ‘system’.

Moodmetric has decided to stay lean and follow the teachings of Vincit. Quoting their CEO Mikko Kuitunen: “When the headcount goes over 30, the people still remain intelligent enough to decide whether they need to buy a pencil or not.”