Howell stands leaning her elbows on a railing. She is smiling, wearing a gray button down shirt, with glasses.

My design research explores emotion recognition technologies, which claim to infer insights about emotional experience based on biosensory data, data about people’s bodies, thoughts, and behaviors. What can (and can’t) this data say about how we feel? How might this data shape the way we feel, and shape how we relate to ourselves and others? I explore these questions by building sensing technologies that produce biosensory data, such as heart rate or skin conductance, and display it a creative way, such as color-changing fabric or sound. I set up situations where people interact with these sensor-and-data-display technologies in an open-ended way, often with mundane but real social consequences, such as pairs of friends talking about their feelings. The highly varied and often surprising social and emotional experiences of people with these designs offer provocative yet experientially grounded speculative directions for designing with data.

I am an assistant professor in Digital Media at Georgia Tech. I completed my PhD at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley, where I was a member of the BioSENSE lab. Previously I have worked as a human centered designer and engineer in Singapore, Morocco, and China, as well as at the MIT Media Lab, Intel Labs, Microsoft, and The Echo Nest.