Prepare to Design the Future
March 19–20, 2017: Training
March 20–22, 2017: Tutorials & Conference
San Francisco, CA

When your internet-connected things know how you feel

Pamela Pavliscak (SoundingBox)
2:05pm–2:45pm Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Beyond the screen
Location: Georgian
Level: Intermediate
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 6 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Strategists, designers, and researchers

What you'll learn

  • Learn what it means to design for emotion as input and output
  • Explore the latest research on emotional intelligence and learn how to apply it to design for artificial intelligence
  • Discover new techniques to design an internet of emotional things to support, rather than exploit, our irrational selves


Our relationship with technology has an emotional undercurrent. We react to posts with hearts and wows. We talk back to our GPS, treat our Roomba like a pet, and say goodnight to Alexa. We aren’t sure if the phone is a best friend, a saboteur, or an extension of ourselves. After all, our relationships, our memories, and our conversations are embodied in the technology we use every day.

Yet, even though our technology is a nexus of complicated emotion and knows a lot about what we do, so far, it doesn’t know much about how we feel. That’s changing as emotion-sensing technology moves from the experimental phase to reality. Emotional design is about identifying a low point and hopefully transforming it into a positive. The next wave of emotion-aware technology is, if nothing else, going to push us to explore emotions in a more nuanced way.

Pamela Pavliscak explores why human emotion is complicated and confusing for machines, dives into how machines will interpret and act on emotional signals like tone of voice, facial expression, and physical responses, and considers how apps that can sense our emotions have already changed the way we relate to technology and other people. By the end of the session, you’ll know what makes for a rich emotional experience and why, even if we make our technology invisible, the connection will still be emotional.

Photo of Pamela Pavliscak

Pamela Pavliscak


Pamela Pavliscak (pronounced pav-li-check) is the CEO of SoundingBox, where she advises designers, developers, and decision makers on how to create technologies with emotional intelligence. Pamela is also on the faculty at Pratt Institute’s School of Information and is leading an effort for IEEE Standards for ethics and artificial intelligence. Pamela explores our conflicted and emotional relationship with technology and often speaks on creativity in the digital age, generation Z, and emotion and technology, most recently at SXSW and Collision.