Mes émotions sont à fleur de peau

Mes émotions sont à fleur de peau is a permanent exhibit in the Human Exhibition of the Montreal Science Center, located in the Old Port of Montreal.  Launched in February 2017, this exhibit aims to:

  1. Educate the public on how emotions and feelings are connected to physiological body changes;
  2. Collect data to improve our ability to recognize emotions through physiological signals.

Every individual’s emotions are reflected in changes in their physiological signals (e.g. heart rate, amount of sweat on their palms) in an idiosyncratic way.  As a result, it has been possible to use machine learning techniques to accurately classify an individual’s emotions from their physiological signals when the individual can provide training data.  In other words, if an individual can self-report their emotions, an algorithm can be developed to detect the emotions of that particular individual.  However, everyone’s physiological responses to emotions are different, and the development of a user-independent emotion classifier (e.g. one where users do not need to provide training data) is much more challenging.  This exhibit collects self-reported emotion from visitors as their physiological signals are being recorded, and populates a large database through which population-based patterns can be determined.  The ultimate goal of this work is to develop an algorithm that can detect the emotional state of non-verbal and non-communicative individuals in order to enhance and enrich interactions with them.

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Visitors to the exhibit, listening to the biomusic produced from their physiological signals. Finger sensor records three physiological data: electrodermal activity, peripheral skin temperature, and blood volume pulse.

Visitors to “Mes émotions sont à fleur de peau” will sit in a booth and view a number of videos. While they watch each video, physiological data will be collected via a finger sensor.  The finger sensor will collect autonomic nervous system signals, such as skin temperature, heart rate and electronic changes on the skin’s surface, which will then be transformed using ‘biomusic’ technology into their own personal ‘emotional music.’

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The team (From left to right):
Florian Grond, Igor Sorokin, Stefanie Blain-Moraes

This project was funded by a Mitacs Accelerate Grant and the Old Port of Montreal.