Human emotions, particularly anger and frustration, can now be identified by computers. A recent study suggests that the movements of the mouse can help reveal the state of mind of an individual.
According to researchers at Brigham Young University in the US, computer users are most likely to use certain patterned movements with their mouse when in particular moods. When calm, users are more likely to use their mouse in slow, smooth lines or slightly curved paths. When frustrated or angry, they are more likely to use faster and jagged or rough movements. Who would have thought?
Lead author of the study, Professor Jeffrey Jenkins of the BYU Marriot School, stated: "It's counter-intuitive. When I'm frustrated, I start moving the mouse faster." Jenkins believes that the practical applications of the study could assist website developers in creating more intuitive and smarter systems. If websites are designed such that they are able to predict the users' state of mind, then the users' experience could be enhanced by adjusting to their emotional states.
Jenkins added: "Traditionally it has been very difficult to pinpoint when a user becomes frustrated, leading them to not come back to a site. Being able to sense a negative emotional response, we can adjust the website experience to eliminate stress or to offer help."
Jenkins hopes to continue his research by branching into mobile sites. The idea is to try and predict human emotions by tracking the finger movements on a touch-screen smartphone or tablet. By collecting data on users' swipes and taps, the research can move into the next stage. Jenkins has patented the technology and a start-up has been established that holds the licence.