What is emotion? Current psychological science suggests that the experience of emotion is constructed out of at least three key “ingredients”: a) Internal sensations from our body; b) Information we collect from the external world (e.g. Where am I? What is happening around me? What is that smell?) ; and c) Mental representations from prior experience (e.g. When else have I felt like this? or How do I expect to feel in this situation? etc.).
Our mind processes these three types of information to bring about the meaningful psychological experiences that we call emotion.
How do our bodies process emotions? A look at the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nerve systems provides insight. Imagine that you’re taking a stroll in the park when suddenly, an angry bear appears. Your heart starts to beat faster, while blood pressure may rise. The palms and feet start to sweat and your muscles tense.
The body is preparing you to fight back or run away from danger, aka enter “fight or flight” mode. This is the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) at work to give your body increased energy and strength in order to escape danger. This happens through the activation of a branch of the ANS called the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Now imagine a more relaxing, bear-free walk where you peacefully lay down in the grass, enjoy the sun, and listen to your favorite calming music. Now the ANS takes action by relaxing muscles, calming the heartbeat, and generally slowing the body’s processes down. This happens through the activation of another branch of ANS called the parasympathetic nervous system(PNS). This corresponds to changes in heartbeat patterns (Heart Rate Variability - HRV) and various indicators in your skin’s electrical properties. Activation of both the PNS and the sympathetic branches of the ANS can be measured through Electrodermal (i.e., sweat gland) and Cardiovascular (i.e., blood circulatory system) variations.
So, how does it work?
By leveraging four embedded sensors via the wristband, Feel collects these indicators and analyses them using cutting-edge methods of computer science. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is measured through a photoplethysmogram (PPG) sensor that captures slight differences in heart rate as one lives through emotional experiences.
Feel also measures Electrodermal Responses (EDR) through a Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) sensor, as this has been shown to be a reliable emotion-related indicator. An infrared Skin Temperature sensor catches differences in body temperature that have been shown to vary in a range of emotional states. Finally, the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) measures movement and activity to improve Feel's ability to detect and predict affective experiences.
Advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and signal processing algorithms analyze vital signs and identify affective patterns. Through state-of-the-art machine and deep learning methods, Feel monitors the body’s physiological signals throughout the day to recognize the internal bodily patterns that help construct your emotional experience. These bodily patterns give rise to sensations that are characterized by a certain level of pleasure or displeasure, as well as by some degree of alertness (what emotion researchers call core affect).
For example, an emotion such as joy typically involves pleasurable sensations and a relatively high level of alertness, whereas sadness correspondingly involves displeasurable sensations and relatively low alertness levels. Although there is no direct correspondence between any specific emotion and a particular pattern of bodily reactions, Feel reliably understands which affective area is most likely to be in given the positive or negative character of this bodily sensation (valance), together with your level of alertness.
The Feel app then shares this information with you in a digestible way. From your personal report, it helps you through a guided coaching process to help you better understand and process how you feel.
Feel helps you become more aware of your emotions so you can gain a deeper understanding of their internal and external triggers. Based on information collected by the Feel wristband and your input on the Feel app, you’ll receive tailored guidance on how to better regulate and optimize your emotional experience. These will help you enhance emotional awareness and wellbeing. The Feel app utilizes the latest research in psychology and psychotherapy to offer constructive suggestions for betterment.