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Sunderland University boffins study the science of sadness and smiles

Mark Hall fitted with biosensors. Below, the ECUTE team Eva Krumhuber, Aleksandra Swiderska, Lara Vujovic, Marc Hall, John Hodgson and Arvid Kappas.

Mark Hall fitted with biosensors. Below, the ECUTE team Eva Krumhuber, Aleksandra Swiderska, Lara Vujovic, Marc Hall, John Hodgson and Arvid Kappas.

TECHNOLOGY to measure emotional states of mind has been tested out by a team of Wearside scientists.

Researchers from the University of Sunderland travelled to Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany, to use the institute’s innovative technology, as part of a global project to better understand society’s cultural differences.

The technology uses biosensors, in order to understand someone’s state of mind as they respond to different activities.

Biosensors measure face muscle movements and the surface of the skin, which becomes slightly damp during states such as excitement, attention or anxiety.

Software then captures data from the sensors in the form of graphs, where peaks represent the various emotional responses, which can then be compared to the activity the person was involved in.

The visit to Germany was part of eCUTE (Education in Cultural Understanding Technology Enhanced), which is a three-year research programme to develop cultural awareness by engaging young people with characters in a virtual world.

Both Sunderland and Jacobs Universities are part of a consortium of eight research partners across Europe involved in eCUTE, which brings together experts in emotional and cultural psychology, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, human-computer interaction and cultural computing.

Dr Lynne Hall will be heading a team of Sunderland University’s computer experts to evaluate the response to the computer programme.

She said: “This is an incredibly prestigious project which will have real world impact. We anticipate significant advances for the games sector and for cultural learning.

“We will be looking at eCUTE’s user-experience evaluation. It’s an area where Sunderland is incredibly strong and has proven experience in assessing computing projects of this scale.”

She said the team will be drawing on experts from across the university to help, including educator Professor Bridget Cooper, and Professor Peter Smith, an expert in equality and diversity.

The eCUTE learning environments are being presented to two different groups, children aged nine to 11 and young adults aged 18 to 25.

The groups will be introduced to a virtual world of “synthetic cultures” and then technology is used to enhance cultural understanding, offering a learning experience in a new environment.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho

 

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