Hardware, Software & the Internet of Things
June 23–25, 2015 • San Francisco, CA

Empathic engineering for the internet of experiences

Fotini Markopoulou (Team Turquoise)
4:35pm–5:15pm Thursday, 06/25/2015
Location: Cowell Theater (Herbst Pavilion)
Average rating: ****.
(4.33, 3 ratings)

The internet of things is not going to just be about interacting with data, it will also be a subjective experience. How will we make it the experience we want it to be?

Humans don’t process data, they process experiences. New technologies are creating a revolution in measuring and collecting data about our life, habits and environment. This data is useful but is only part of the story. Data provides the raw material for constructing empathic experiences but cannot provide the experience itself. Experiences are feelings, and to affect feelings we need empathic technologies.

Empathic technologies must interact with the body as well as the brain. Recent research in interoception, the sense of the physiological condition of the body, tells us that physiological body states hold the key. This understanding goes back to William James: “We experience the feeling of the same old body always there.” Empathic technologies are subtle, both because they involve our sense of self and because the mechanisms are not always intuitive. Empathic engineering is still in its infancy.

Team Turquoise focuses on psycho-physiology, the way in which a person’s mind and body affect one another. We create technology that changes how we perceive, feel, and behave. Our wearable, doppel, provides a first step toward creating an empathic experience to control the pace of life, to speed it up or slow it down on demand. Our studies have shown that doppel affects how people think and behave, and how they process information. Our development process is based on extensive testing and continuous interaction with users. For example, we are on Kickstarter right now because we like the feedback it provides us. Tech that works with you should be built with you.

In the world of the future we will have empathic devices engaging and integrating all our senses. We must go beyond the internet of things to the internet of human experiences. This will require a focus on emotions as well as rationality. It will require making use of all our senses to make life as productive, pleasant, and powerful as possible.

Photo of Fotini Markopoulou

Fotini Markopoulou

Team Turquoise

Fotini Markopoulou is a theoretical physicist and hardware tech designer. Her physics work is on gravity, cosmology, quantum information theory, complex systems, and networks. She was one of the founders of Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada, one of the premier institutes on the frontier of theoretical physics. Since 2012 Fotini has moved into the area of innovation and design, and her main interest is the interface between systems design and personal experience. She is co-founder of Team Turquoise, a wearable tech company that uses research in psycho-physiology, how mind and body affect one-another, to create technology that changes how we perceive, feel, and behave.