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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Soon Your Computer Will Be Able to Tell if You’re Bored | Evolving Science - Intelligent Machines

Photo:  Emma Stenhouse
"Whilst many of us can probably remember drifting off at school during a particular lesson where the teacher failed to fully engage our attention, this could possibly become a thing of the past now that researchers have found a way to measure how engaged someone is with computer-based content." notes Emma Stenhouse, qualified teacher of biology and chemistry and worked as a teacher in the UK. 

Home Office Workstation Notebook.
Photo: Public Domain

As many more courses become available online, as well as educators employing a higher level of computer assistance during lessons, something called ‘affective-aware technology’ could potentially help increase the engagement of those people using these services. This would mean that the computer-aided lesson could recognize when a student’s interest is waning, and change either the content or delivery of the lesson to re-engage them.

Non-Instrumental Movements 
A study carried out at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School found that the level of interest shown by a person using a computer can be measured using tiny actions known as non-instrumental movements. These involuntary movements are exhibited by all of us, but tend to decrease when we’re fully engaged with what we’re doing.

A common example is a young child, who is normally full of energy and unlikely to sit still for very long. But, place the same child in front of a television showing their favourite show, and they will very often become completely still and fully engaged with the characters within the show.

Dr Harry Witchel, lead author of the study, calls this ‘rapt engagement.’ He suggests that what happens to that small child watching television happens when any of us are highly engaged with something that we’re doing: those tiny movements become supressed and it is this that can be measured by a computer.

Shaping future interactions 
The implications of being able to monitor and track these involuntary movements could certainly be broad-reaching across a variety of different sectors. Dr Witchel said of this discovery that: “Being able to ‘read’ a person’s interest in a computer program could bring real benefits to future digital learning, making it a much more two-way process.”
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Source: Evolving Science