Two years ago Panasonic released a “mood phone” that supposedly tracked your emotional state by analyzing your voice. A year later Motorola awarded a $10,000 competition prize to a Duke University student whose idea was to create a phone that told you the mood of the person on the other end of the line, so that if you had Asberger’s syndrome you could watch the phone change colors based on vocabulary and inflection and gain deeper understanding of what was meant by the person on the other end. In mid-summer of last year D-Link won a design competition by presenting the FuChat, a concept phone that makes both land line and internet calls and also changes color based on the users voice and body temperature to give them feedback about what mood they are in. Shortly thereafter Digital Agua released an iPhone app that – yes, it showed you your mood, this time using the accelerometer.
Most of these apps have trouble presenting themselves with a straight face. But the multiplication of jokes and fantasies testifies to the wish for an external device to clue us in about how we feel. This is strange, because how we feel should be exactly the thing that is most accessible to us through introspection. But these devices – jokey as they are – suggest our feelings escape us sometimes, or that there is a time delay between the feeling and our awareness of the feeling. We need something to track them, and then to tell us what we feel.
The video above describes a prototype of a serious version of the mood phone, presented by Margaret Morris, a clinical psychologist and Intel researcher: