Rosalind Picard: Affective Computing & Emotion Technology


More than fifteen years ago Rosalind Picard set out to build the first computational systems to recognize and respond intelligently to emotion. She and her team created and tested the world’s first wearable sensors for processing emotion. They developed pattern analysis, machine learning, and signal processing algorithms for working with speech, physiology, facial expressions, and more. Today this work has spawned two start-up companies, collected more than seven billion facial emotion points from viewers who opted-in online to turn on their cameras, and is leading to a new sensor that can issue potentially life-saving alerts for people who have seizures. In this talk Professor Picard will tell stories that highlight several surprising findings. These findings include discerning frustrated smiles from happy ones, discovering that regular cameras could compute heart rate and respiration, finding electrical signals on the wrist that respond to deep brain activity, discovering connections to memory consolidation during sleep, and learning of surprising implications of wearable sensing for autism, anxiety, epilepsy, and more.

The talk is sponsored by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Speaker Bio:
Professor Rosalind W. Picard, Sc.D. is founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab and co-director of the Things That Think Consortium, the largest industrial sponsorship organization at the lab. She has co-founded two businesses, Empatica, Inc. creating wearable sensors and analytics to improve health, and Affectiva, Inc. delivering technology to help measure and communicate emotion.

Picard holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with highest honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and master’s and doctorate degrees, both in electrical engineering and computer science, from MIT. She started her career as a member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories designing VLSI chips for digital signal processing and developing new algorithms for image compression. In 1991 she joined the MIT Media Lab faculty. She became internationally known for constructing mathematical texture models for content-based retrieval of images and for pioneering methods of automated search and annotation in digital video including the Photobook system. The year before she was up for tenure she took a risk and published the book Affective Computing, which became instrumental in starting a new field by that name. Today that field has its own journal, international conference, and professional society. Picard was also a founding member of the IEEE Technical Committee on Wearable Information Systems in 1998, helping launch the field of wearable computing.

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