The Galvactivator: A Glove that Senses and Communicates Skin Conductivity

Rosalind W. Picard and Jocelyn Scheirer

Appears in: Proceedings from the 9th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, New Orleans, August 2001

The galvactivator is a glove-like wearable device that senses the wearer's skin conductivity and maps its values to a bright LED display, making the skin conductivity level visible. Increases in skin conductivity tend to be good indicators of physiological arousalcausing the galvactivator display to glow brightly. The new form factor of this sensor frees the wearer from the traditional requirement of being tethered to a rack of equipment; thus, the device facilitates study of the skin conductivity response in everyday settings. We recently built and distributed over 1000 galvactivators to audience members at a daylong symposium. To explore the communication potential of this device, we collected and analyzed the aggregate brightness levels emitted by the devices using a video camera focused on the audience. We found that the brightness tended to be higher at the beginning of presentations and during interactive sessions, and lower during segments when a speaker spoke for long periods of time. We also collected anecdotes from participants about their interpersonal uses of the device. This paper describes the construction of the galvactivator, our experiments with the large audience, and several other potentially useful applications ranging from facilitation of conversation between two people, to new ways of aiding autistic children.

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