What to work on at Emotion Hack Day

IMG_2600Emotion Hack Day aims at making online interaction better. In order to achieve this goal, we are focusing on creating new ways of transmitting emotional information. Why? Because this is a vital part of functional interaction, and one that is still largely overlooked.

Better tools for interaction will both prevent problems as well as provide additional benefit in many different contexts.

Here are a few specific contexts and problems that you could focus on during the hack:

1. Emotion in collaboration

How can increasing emotional information help teams accomplish more and better outcomes?

Teams in work organizations are increasingly distributed. The horror of the conference call, the weird feeling of not looking into anyone’s eyes during a video call, the frequent misunderstandings that happen in text-based communication make distributed teams less efficient than they could be.

Emotional information can be obtained from multiple sources, such as sensors measuring heart rate and skin conductance, cameras detecting emotions from facial expression and state of arousal from pupil size.

Could making this emotional information available for example in chat-based work environments support better understanding and cooperation between team members? How else could emotional information be used to strengthen collaboration between team members?

2. Combating hate speech and cyber-bullying

How could we utilize AI and sensor data on emotions to create a better and safer version of the Internet?

Humans understand each other’s emotions largely through modeling the emotions within themselves and thereby experiencing other’s emotions as their own. This emotion contagion is highly important for affective empathy (the ability to understand other people on an emotional level). When emotional information is not available and transmitted, it does not touch us, decreasing affective empathy.

Without affective empathy, it becomes easy to act in a cruel manner, to bully others, and be rude. This probably explains why toxic interaction is so common online.

AI technologies have now evolved to a point where tone and sentiment can be derived from natural language. Information on emotional states can be obtained from various physiological measures.

Could gathering and transmitting emotional information be used to create interaction platforms that discourage and prevent hate speech and cyber-bullying?

3. Emotion in business

Could businesses benefit from being more aware of their customers’ emotions?

Emotion does not just drive our social interactions. Emotions intertwine with rational thought, acting as signals of value and importance.

Therefore, emotions are a key factor in:
• our purchase choices
• the value we experience from products and services
• how well interaction with customers works
• our attitude towards brands

What if customer service could be able to know how you’re feeling before they take your call, or if companies would be able to be present and aware of your emotions in the situations where you experience value from a service or product?

4. Emotions in social relationships

What would better emotional connection and awareness do for our friendships and other relationships with loved ones?

According to statistics, the time that people spend interacting with family members and friends is declining as time spent online increases. Online interaction is easier between people who know each other and have met IRL, but is still lacking in many things that are needed for deep understanding and connection: feeling of shared context, presence, touch, and most importantly, rich emotion expression.

What if you could see how your child has been feeling online lately? What if you could chat with a friend and experience what they are feeling at the moment more deeply? What if you could be more present, on the level that really counts, for a grandmother you see less often than you would like to?

5. Build your own vision

Do you have a vision for an app, service, work of art, experimental paradigm or something else that increases information about emotions to make interaction, or our lives in general, better?

When building for the future, one cannot possibly grasp every last possibility. We’d love for you to build it and show us!

Remember that the solution you work on does not need to focus on technology! See Melanie Segado’s fantastic post about ways to hack without programming.