Physiological computing to foster social interactions

Here I am interested in how we could use physiological signals to help people bond with each others during day life interactions. One practical example comes from a traditional board that was “augmented” through remote heart rate sensing, using webcams. Indeed, heartbeats could be used to increase social presence. Projection helped to conceal the technological aspects from users and to seamlessly integrate the biofeedback to players’ surroundings.

Remote heart rate sensing and projection are used to augment the traditional board game "Coup".

In a pilot study, various conditions were tested – e.g. heart rate visible by all players vs visible only by others and not by self. The main hypothesis is that the presence of a biofeedback equally shared between players – i.e. a heart rate visible by all – will improve game experience and social presence. The next iteration would improve on the feedback given to players, for example using Tobe avatars.

The code supporting this application – notably remote heart rate sensing using off-the-shelf webcams – is released as an opensource software. To my knowledge, this is the first time that remote sensing is used for several users, in a social context.

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