Everyone´s day-to-day routines are influenced by stress levels and the many emotions that we experience, which can have a negative impact on our health. Measuring and analyzing both parameters could help to control them and, consequently, improve our quality of life. This is exactly what young Javier Hernández is attempting through his emotional computation research. This engineer has developed a series of devices which detect emotions and analyzes stress levels, which have led to Hernández´s inclusion in MIT Technology Review, Spanish Edition's Innovators Under 35 Spain 2016 awards.
Hernández, who currently works in the MIT Media Lab (USA), says that he began to study stress because "it is a condition which affects many illnesses." The innovator explains: "If it becomes chronic, it causes cardiovascular disease, obesity and sleep disorders, all with important repercussions for life expectancy and quality of life." For this reason, his work centers on three important pillars: measuring (biometric patterns), recognizing (stress and emotions) and adapting (the environment to help the user).
In order to fulfill his first objective, measuring, Hernández uses three devices: a keyboard with pressure sensors within the keys, a mouse which measures stress and a sensor that registers the user´s breathing and heart rate from their location in the user´s pocket.
As for recognizing, Hernández has developed a wristband with biosensors to detect the first signs of stress. He has also created a tool capable of registering data related to the behavior of an autistic person and a system which identifies smiles in real time.
Finally, in order to adapt the user´s environment, the young engineer has created a device which allows cars to detect the driver´s level of stress. From this information, an intelligent vehicle can influence the driver with subtle changes, such as softening the tone of voice of the GPS system or lowering the temperature inside the car.
According to Hernández, the future of emotional and stress measuring will be marked by the convergence between wearable devices (worn as clothing or against the skin, like smart watches) and devices installed in computers and work stations. "The internet of things can also allow for non-invasive measurements of what is going on," the young engineer points out. He offers the example of a future in which "sofas can include sensors that will tell us how long we have been sitting, indicate our posture or heart rate."
The professor of computer science and artificial intelligence from the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain), general director of RedEmprendia and jury member for the Innovators Under 25 Spain 2016 awards, Senén Barro, says that Javier Hernández´s project is "attractive and innovative." In his opinion, although developed as a research project, it has "an important potential application in the future."
Discover all of the winning projects from Innovators Under 35 Spain 2016.