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Personal Technologies for Affective Health

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - AffecTech (Personal Technologies for Affective Health)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2021-03-31

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.
Throughout its 4 years, the AffecTech project has generated 129 papers including 43 journal papers and 86 conference papers, with over 10 journal papers being reviewed, and over additional 10 in preparation. The breadth of these outcomes is testimony to the massive commitment and hard work that both ESRs and AffecTech academics have invested to ensure these significant achievements. In the light of Covid-19 impact on most of our research work, these achievements particularly stand out.
Key highlights include collaborative papers in high impact journals such as Nature, JMIR, JMIR Research Protocol, JMIR Formative Research, JMIR Mental Health, Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Systematic Reviews, MDPI Sensors, APA Emotions, ACM Transactions on Cyber-Physical Systems, ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction and IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems. In terms of conference and workshop papers, highlights include 11 CHI papers (4 Awards) and 6 DIS papers (2 Awards): two Honourable Mention Awards at CHI’20, one Honourable Mention Award at DIS’ 20, two Honourable Mentions Awards at CHI’19, one Honourable Mention Award at DIS’ 19, and 2 Awards at Pervasive Computing’19, and a Best Paper Award at LOD 2018: the International Conference on Machine Learning, Optimization, and Data Science.
With respect to socio-economic impact, the project has contributed to increasing awareness of mental health among large public through an active presence in social media, and by aligning its key dissemination with the WHO’s World Mental Health Day and other mental health campaigns over the four years. Most of the developed prototypes involved user studies for requirements gathering or co-participatory design, which in turn offered additional opportunities to engage with end users, and sensitise them to the issues of mental health research. Another positive outcome of the project is its very successful dissemination and communications strategy which resulted in coverage in large audience media including broadcast media, online and print both in the UK, across Europe and internationally. Based on available data, we estimate at least 14.25 million persons reached.
Other achievements include AffecTech acknowledgement in EC’s annual Innovation Radar Prize for wearables for mental wellbeing. In 2020 following submission, ESR1 prototype was recognised as an innovation actively exploring value creation opportunities in the innovation category ‘excellent science.’ Notably, also in 2020 Philips ESR12 became the first inventor of a patent application titled: Method and system to assess depression severity by means of analysis of MRI scans together with perceptual bias in experiencing facial expression.
Impact targeting ESRs includes the enhancement of their career perspective and employability through a high quality training programme designed to strengthen 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