Signing off

Hi everyone,

It is with a heavy heart that we are announcing the closure of the PhysiologicalComputing.net website. As you’ve probably noticed we’ve not posted very much over the past year. We started this website in 2009, around the time I moved to Liverpool and began working for Steve at Liverpool John Moores University. We created the website so we could have a place to discuss our ideas about Physiological Computing in a more informal setting and share our interest with fellow researchers and the general public at large. Being in the same department was a great motivator for us to publish content regularly, especially in the early years. Sadly my time at John Moores came to an end and we are now working on different projects which has made it difficult to maintain the needed momentum to publish regularly and as a result we’ve decided to call it a day and close the website.

Over the years we’ve covered a lot of interesting topics including the problems inherent in commercial EEG sensors [1, 2, 3], the use of biofeedback in the videogame industry [1, 2, 3. 4], the creation and development of Body Blogging [1, 2] and issues in designing physiological  computing systems [1, 2, 3], to name but a few. We’ve also taken sensors out in the field and done impromptu experiments [1, 2], done a couple of interviews  [1, 2] including one with Dr Alan Pope, as well run a successful CHI workshop through the website and even produced a book which we released last year!

We are immensely proud of what we have achieved here on PhysiologicalComputing.net and are remiss to let it go but we both feel its time to move on to other projects. Fortunately the website will remain online and we hope you will check out our archives and enjoy reading our musings from over the years.

You can still find us musing to ourselves on our respective websites:

As well as find us on Twitter:

We wish to thank our readers and everyone else who has contributed to the website, including Jen, Ute, Alex and Lenart.

We hope to see you again soon, signing off,

– Kiel & Steve

 

Forum for the Community for Passive BCI

A quick post to alert people to the first forum for the Community for Passive BCI Research that take place from the 16th to the 18th of July at the Hanse Institute for Advanced Study in Delmenhorst, near Bremen, Germany.  This event is being organised by Thorsten Zander from the Berlin Institute of Technology.

The main aim of the forum in his own words “is to connect researchers in this young field and to give them a platform to share their motivations and intentions. Therefore, the focus will not be primarily set on the presentation of new scientific results, but on the discussion of current and future directions and the possibilities to shape the community.”

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Book Announcement – Advances in Physiological Computing

It was way back in 2011 during our CHI workshop that we first discussed the possibility of putting together an edited collection for Springer on the topic of physiological computing.  It was clear to me at that time that many people associated physiological computing with implicit monitoring as opposed the active control that characterised BCI.  When we had the opportunity to put together a collection, one idea was to extend the scope of physiological computing to include all technologies where signals from the brain and the body were used as a form of input.  Some may interpret this relabelling of physiological computing as an all-inclusive strategy as a provocative move.  But we did not take this option as a conceptual ‘land-grab’ but rather an attempt to be as inclusive as possible and to bring together what I still perceive to be a rather disparate and fractured research community.  After all, we are all using psychophysiology in one form or another and share a common interest in sensor design, interaction mechanics and real-time measurement.

The resulting book is finally close to publication (tentative date: 4th April 2014) and you can follow this link to get the full details.  We’re pleased to have a wide range of contributions on an array of technologies, from eye input to digital memories via mental workload monitoring, implicit interaction, robotics, biofeedback and cultural heritage.  Thanks to all our contributors and the staff at Springer who helped us along the way.

 

Non-wearables for health announced by Nintendo

Nintendo recently announced their going to focus on health applications using non-wearable devices in the near future. Sadly this is all they were willing to say at this point in time and so it’s pretty much anyone’s guess what their actually working on. While Nintendo has developed successful exergames with the likes of the Wii-Fit their entry into more physiologically driven gaming for health applications never really got off the drawing board. As such I’d hazard a guess that their working on a camera based heart monitor similar to the one supported by the new Xbox Kinect for use in the Wii-Fit U.

 

Reflections on first International Conference on Physiological Computing Systems

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Last week I attended the first international conference on physiological computing held in Lisbon.  Before commenting on the conference, it should be noted that I was one of the program co-chairs, so I am not completely objective – but as this was something of a watershed event for research in this area, I didn’t want to let the conference pass without comment on the blog.

The conference lasted for two-and-a-half days and included four keynote speakers.  It was a relatively small meeting with respect to the number of delegates – but that is to be expected from a fledgling conference in an area that is somewhat niche with respect to methodology but very broad in terms of potential applications.

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What kind of Meaningful Interaction would you like to have? Pt 1

A couple of years ago we organised this CHI workshop on meaningful interaction in physiological computing.  As much as I felt this was an important area for investigation, I also found the topic very hard to get a handle on.  I recently revisited this problem in working on a co-authored book chapter with Kiel on our forthcoming collection for Springer entitled ‘Advances in Physiological Computing’ due out next May.

On reflection, much of my difficulty revolved around the complexity of defining meaningful interaction in context.  For systems like BCI or ocular control, where input control is the key function, the meaningfulness of the HCI is self-evident.  If I want an avatar to move forward, I expect my BCI to translate that intention into analogous action at the interface.   But biocybernetic systems, where spontaneous psychophysiology is monitored, analysed and classified, are a different story.  The goal of this system is to adapt in a timely and appropriate fashion and evaluating the literal meaning of that kind of interaction is complex for a host of reasons.

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Call for Papers – Physiological Computing for Intelligent Adaptation: A Special Issue of Interacting with Computers

Special Issue Editors

  • Hugo Gamboa (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal)
  • Hugo Plácido da Silva (IT – Institute of Telecommunications, Portugal)
  • Kiel Gilleade (Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom)
  • Sergi Bermúdez i Badia (Universidade da Madeira, Portugal)
  • Stephen Fairclough (Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom)

Contact: s.fairclough@ljmu.ac.uk

Deadline for Submissions:  30 June 2014

Physiological data provides a wealth of information about the behavioural state of the user. These data can provide important contextual information by allowing the system to draw inferences with respect to the affective, cognitive and physical state of a person. In a computerised system this information can be used as an input control to drive system adaptation. For example, a videogame can use psychophysiological inferences of the player’s level of mental workload during play to adjust game difficulty in real-time.

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“Love is Over” – Gaming a Love Tester

Following on from my earlier adventure with the stress tester, sat right next door was a love tester, presumably developed by the same company given it was using the same chassis as the stress tester*. The love tester is probably one of the most familiar, and oldest, commercial biofeedback games around. Its function is to assess the sexual magnetism of the player using a comically named rating scale e.g. “Cold and Clammy” for no magnetism, “Out of Control” for lots. A love tester is basically a gag device which uses physiological input to provide some authenticity to the assessment. Their a common prop in media where making fun of the sexual prowess of a character is needed (e.g. The Simpsons); you can often find a love tester in a bar or the funfair if you want to try one out,
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Sweaty palms? Quick seek medical attention!

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On my way to work this week I spotted an old coin-operated stress tester. I haven’t seen one of these devices in a while. They use to be a common sight at shopping arcades, typically sat next to a weighing scale machine, I suppose offering an impromptu medical check-up while your out and about. Hopefully nobody took this thing seriously as it’s a complete sham!
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