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Personal Technologies for Affective Health

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AffecTech (Personal Technologies for Affective Health)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-12-31

Personalised health is a European priority and one of the strategic research areas for Horizon 2020. It holds the potential of reducing the ever-increasing costs of institutional healthcare across Europe and worldwide. This project advances the state-of-the-art of personal health technologies for affective disorders, estimated to be the highest-ranking cause of disease in the Western world by 2020. Among these, anxiety, depression and bipolar disorders are the most prevalent, incurring the largest social costs. AffecTech integrates outstanding yet fragmented expertise in developing personal systems for mental health with the most influential models of emotion regulation from health and clinical psychology. It marks a significant shift from the current technologies capturing emotional responses whose understanding usually requires physicians’ input, to low-cost, non-invasive, wearable self-help technologies for visualising and regulating one’s emotions in daily life. The specific aim is to support self-understanding and successful adoption of adaptive emotion regulation strategies. AffecTech contributes towards four significant outcomes: (1) wearable systems for capturing emotions and their regulation in real life, (2) applications for understanding of emotions and their regulatory processes, (3) interactive tools for training adaptive emotion regulation strategies, and (4) theoretical contributions to emotion regulation research in real life. AffecTech builds on exceptional European and North American expertise from both academic and private sector to provide personalised health research with a timely and much needed momentum to address the pressing social challenge of emotional wellbeing and health.
The first 24 months of the project have focused on recruitment, consolidation of processes, delivery of five training events, communications and dissemination activities, as well as Early Stage Researchers’ (ESRs) research activities and scientific deliverables. The 33 publications research peer-reviewed publications include 10 journal papers, 16 conference papers (and additional 3 accepted for publication), 6 workshop papers, and 1 book chapter. Highlights include (ESR 9, UNICATT; ESR 8, UJI) collaborative papers in high impact journals JMIR Research Protocol, Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Systematic Reviews and Annual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine, (ESR 6, UOXF), in ACM Transactions on Cyber-Physical Systems and in IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems, and (ESR 2, ESR4, and collaborative paper between KTH, ULANC and TCD) in the flagship CHI conference (acceptance rate 24%). Additional highlights include best paper award received by Andrea Patanè and Professor Marta Kwiatkowska at the 4th International Conference on Machine Learning, Optimization, and Data Science for their innovative research into emotion recognition in mobile wearable devices, AffecTech presence at ACM CHI and DIS 2018, and at PhysioNet Challenge 2018 where ESR 6 and ESR 7 ranked 4th. Apart from academic papers such as literature review, or systematic review, evaluation of existing mental health-related apps, or critique of memory-based interventions in depression, ESRs’ outcomes include also new algorithms or approaches to biosignal analysis, conceptual designs, smart materials exploration, and interactive prototypes.
With respect to socio-economic impact, the project has contributed to increasing awareness of mental health among larger public through an active presence in social media, and by aligning two of its main activities in 2017 and 2018, respectively with the celebration of WHO’s World Mental Health Day (October), which raises awareness and mobilises efforts to support mental health. Most of the prototypes currently developed involve user studies for requirements gathering or co-participatory design, which in turn offer additional opportunities to engage with end users, and sensitise them to the issues of mental health research.We have also started exploring the licencing implications of the hardware we are developing, for example with respect to the DIY kit of smart material and actuators for the digital fabrication of novel affective prototypes. Impact targeting ESRs includes the enhancement of their career perspective and employability through a high quality training programme designed to strengthened their industrial and academic profiles, in particular with respect to interdisciplinary research. Impact in academic communities is reflected in the high quality publications published in the three research areas relevant for AffecTech: HCI, biomedical engineering, and clinical psychology.
Prototype of an application to track moods and encourage mindfulness
Prototype of affective display for representing real-time changes in emotional arousal