Wearables that sense our emotions have hit the headlines this week, with two new wristbands that claim to use sensors to detect how we're feeling.
This lofty aim isn't achieved through voodoo tech but instead galvanic skin response sensors, which detect changes in skin temperature and conductivity to interpret how we might be feeling. They track electrodermal activity, which read by a tiny electric charge zapped across our super conductive sweaty skin.
Essential reading: Can a wearable actually read your mind?
This week we learnt more about the Feel wristband and got our first look at Zenta band by Vinaya, which use the technology to deliver supposed insights into what makes us happy and sad – along with advice on how to change our lives for the better.
It's not quite that easy, however. Experts have told Wareable in the past that just because your skin's getting hot and clammy doesn't mean that you're experiencing an emotion. If you can pair the reaction to an event – like opening a big present – then sure, you can make that assumption. But in the emotional rollercoaster of every day life, it's difficult to say when you're excited and when you're just a bit hot.
However, the tech isn't new, and companies have had plenty of time to iron out the issues. Even today there are a crop of devices that already use galvanic sensors, albeit far from effectively.
So let's cut to the chase and pick three wearables that study galvanic response and pick one to wear, one promising contender for the future and one waste of skin.
WEAR: Jawbone UP3
Picking a winner in the world of electrodermal activity wasn't easy – no-one is using the data in a meaningful way. The Microsoft Band 2 and Basis Peak both measure it as part of their line-up, but don't really leverage the data. The Peak plots it on a graph, which is accessible when you sync to your PC/Mac. Step up the Jawbone UP3, which uses the sensor to build up some of the best wrist-based sleep tracking data on the market. It's hardly brain reading tech, but at the minute it's as useful as skin sensing gets.
NEARLY THERE: Vinaya Zenta
This week's two new emotion sensing wearables aren't set to go head to head until February next year, and other than bold promises, we know little about them. But we're picking Zenta over Feel, simply based on the added context outlined by Vinaya. The idea is that users train their band by adding details on meetings, appointments and social interactions, so Zenta has every chance of learning what makes you tick.
Essential reading: How Vinaya is building an emotional AI life coach
SQUARE: Moodmetric smart ring
An attempt at using galvanic skin response to gauge emotion from last year, Moodmetric's ring has hardly set the world alight. Another giant ring with a visible USB port, any increase in skin temperature would likely be the warm heat of embarrassment than any kind of euphoria. High levels of stress detected: remove smart ring for instant improvement.
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