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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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,
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!
It appears Ubisoft’s entry into biofeedback training isn’t quite over as I earlier suspected. The product has been rebranded as Ozen and is now being marketed more appropriately to the well-being community rather than the gamer community. Its scheduled for a 2014 release; hopefully we’ll get a chance to play with it soon.
Dark Escape 4D at Mr T’s, Blackpool
Holidays and arcades are one of my traditions. Come every holiday I hole up in the nearest arcade and play games until my fingers go numb, usually from the re-coil of the light-gun games. Sadly, in my experience, arcade culture in the UK has diminished significantly as the novelty and variety of yesteryear is simply not there any more. Most arcades tend to host a mixture of dated racing and light-gun games (I’m looking at you Time Crisis), which, while were fun at the time have lost their charm. During my recent holiday, much to my surprise, I came across a brand new arcade game which really piqued my interest: Dark Escape 4D by Namco.
And why did this game catch my attention so, well because it was a biofeedback game, a biofeedback game at the ARCADE!
Building a rudimentary galvanic skin response sensor
Recently I’ve been developing mechanics for a range of biofeedback projects, one of which was featured, over the summer, in an art exhibit at FACT Liverpool. These projects have been developed with the general public in mind, and so I’ve been working with consumer electronics rather than the research grade devices I normally use.