A raised eyebrow, a cautious smile, a daring glance: facial expressions reveal a lot about someone’s feelings. But what if you cannot see them? For the visually impaired this is a huge loss of quality in communication. The Emotion Whisperer is a subtle tool that can prompt the visually impaired with the body language they’re otherwise missing out on. It comes with a pair of camera glasses that sends images of conversation partners to an app with facial expression recognition. These are analyzed and translated into a tactile signal in a wearable on the arm. Body-language are felt by a specific vibration. You can actually feel someone smile.
The Emotion Whisperer is a concept with which Simon Dogger graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2017 as a blind designer. He won the Smeets Prize for the most professional graduation project. The concept is inspired by his loss of seeing emotions and body language. The development of an Emotion recognition tool that offers a solution is in line with his vision of stimulating equality in society through innovation. The Emotion Whisperer is a research project that looks, among other things, at the influence of emotion recognition dysfunction on social participation and how social innovation can contribute to the quality of communication. The results of this research form the basis of an innovation process, in which a tool can translate facial expressions into a vibration. The project examines how the tool can work technically, how it can integrate into daily life, whether there is support from the visually limited target group and what the possibilities are for market implementation. In addition, the Emotion Whisperer has an important value in the discussion about diversity and inclusion.
The research project looks at the relationship between social innovation and equality in society. This is done, among other things, through user studies with the visually limited target group, validation studies into information through vibrations, the development of the tool and pilots with the visually limited target group. The prototypes are an important part of the iterative design and development proces.. The Emotion whisperer uses video streaming, AI and tactile information to transform facial expressions into a vibration. The core of the tool is that the delivery of information links up with the information processing. Blind and visually impaired people can not, or on a lower level, process visual information and therefore the information must be delivered by sound or feeling. Video of conversation partners are sent to an app on a smartphone through an integrated camera in a pair of glasses with a Bluetooth module.. The software on the app does not determine which emotion can be seen on the face, but it recognizes which facial muscles show activity. AI recognizes the groups of active muscles that represent a facial expression and attaches a digital key. This key is forwarded to a wearable (sleeve) that converts it into a vibration on the skin.
2017Nomination Melkweg Prize Design Academy Eindhoven
2017Smeets Prize Design Academy Eindhoven
2017 IF talent award
2017 development of the first prototype by Eindhoven University of Technology
2018 Grant awarded by the Creative Industries Fund NL for design discipline for validation research
and the development of a wearable prototype
2018 Grant of Ophthalmology Medical Center Zaandam subsidy for the Emotion Whisperer project
2018 Guidance and support of the Eindhoven University of Technology Innovation Lab, an Organization
for Innovation Stimulation, Technology Transfer and Business Development
2018 Purchase of the first sketch of Cube Design Museum Kerkrade for a permanent collection
2019 Collaboration with Vention technologies for the development of research setups
2019 collaboration with University of Amsterdam to conduct validation studies
2019 collaboration with Elitac to develop a wearable with haptic information
2020 Collaboration with Koninklijke Visio Nederland, national institution for blind and partially sighted people, for validation studies with the target group
2020 Dutch Design Award discipline Young Designer with, among others, the Emotion Whisperer
2021 Expected development of second prototype
Oogheelkundig Medisch Centrum, Health Tech Yard, Elitac, Visio, Creative Industries Fund NL
University of Amsterdam, Technical University of Eindhoven, Vention Technologiys BV, Elitac BV, Koninklijke Visio Nederland
The following ZIP-file includes Hi-Res images and a description of the project.
Please contact Simon about any publications.