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UX of Internet of Emotional Things

The world is witnessing the rise of the Internet of Emotional Things (IOET), where technology and human emotions are getting intertwined. As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of technological advancements, it is crucial to pause and reflect on the ethical implications of these emotion-sensitive technologies. While studying at Georgia Tech, I had the privilege of participating in a Design Futuring course led by Prof. Richmond Y. Wong and delving into a speculative project that explores the potential consequences of unregulated IOET and raises questions about the future we are creating. The other committee members advising me on this project are Prof. Noura Howell and Prof. Jay Bolter.

With this project, I embarked on a journey of visualizing the user experience of using emotion-sensitive devices on a day-to-day basis. By bringing these interfaces to life, I sought to ground the conversation in the reality of our present and shed light on the potential dystopian future that awaits us if we fail to address the ethical concerns surrounding IOET. In today's technology-driven world, the convergence of artificial intelligence, big data analytics, emotion detection, mood studies, behavioural analytics and ever-advancing emotion-sensitive technologies has given rise to biased algorithms and intrusive practices. It is imperative that the creators of these technologies thoroughly research and acknowledge the harms of emotion-sensitive technologies and how biases can infiltrate their systems.

Below are a few UX visualisations of IOET services and products created by a fictitious technology company called Emo Sense:

Messaging Apps
  • Emotion-sensitive messaging apps curate contact lists based on the emotional relationship with each person, tagging contact cards accordingly, for e.g., happy, love, friendly, angry, grumpy, unreliable, etc.

  • The app's UI includes intelligent color-changing text bubbles that dynamically reflect the relative emotion of the text

  • 'Heart scores' associated with each contact reflect the evolving emotional relationship over time

  • The 'auto-reply' feature generates AI-powered replies aligned with users' selected virtual emotional avatar, enforcing their chosen identity. Users can choose from a range of personas, for e.g., friendly, well-mannered, professional, strict, introverted, and politically correct, to shape their responses

  • 'Auto-reply' tech keeps users shielded from unpleasant conversations, maintaining a protected cocoon. These messaging apps detect and filter out messages identified as 'harmful' or 'stress-inducing' to protect users' well-being

  • In group chats, friends are prompted to support and look out for each other, enhancing shared relationships

  • Users can hide criticism targeted at them and permanently hide messages from specific group members, promoting peace of mind

Internet of emotional things - IOET - Messaging

Internet of emotional things - IOET - Messaging


  • Entertainment apps curate content based on users' live emotion data feeds, suggesting music, films, TV shows, and other content that align with their current mood or desired emotional state

  • Users can select a specific mood or emotion they want to experience, and the app will serve content proven to evoke that emotion

  • Every song, podcast, artist, album, film, and TV show episode is categorized based on the emotions they evoke or discuss, allowing users to navigate content based on their emotional preferences. Content is color-coded and tagged to inform users of its emotional impact, helping them avoid uncomfortable reactions or triggers

  • Emotion-sensitive video streaming apps can hide or lock content from specific genres that may have a negative impact on users' current emotional state. For example, films discussing themes like "regret" or "envy" can be hidden until users are feeling better

  • Content is curated not only based on individual emotional responses but also on the emotional responses of millions of users worldwide using IOET devices

Sentient Cars

  • Smart cars connected to the IOET network are aware of your emotional tendencies and histories even before you enter the vehicle, using live emotion data feeds from emotion-sensitive devices

  • The car's interior is responsive, allowing users to select mood themes from a range of options. Lights, air conditioners, seats, and other accessories adjust based on the driver's current emotions

  • Car bodies are painted with color-changing pigments that respond to electrical signals produced by fluctuating moods. Headlights, taillights, windshields, windows, mirrors, ambient lights and drive modes are emotionally sensitive

  • Users trust the car to make decisions on their behalf, such as automatically opening the sunroof when weather conditions are enjoyable or removing speed restrictions for a more thrilling drive

  • The car suggests routes based on interpersonal relationships with others, avoiding encounters with people or places that may trigger uncomfortable emotions

  • Drivers can see the emotional states and moods of other drivers and pedestrians, allowing the car to make smart judgments and suggest actions to enhance safety and well-being

  • Based on big emotion data, the car's dashboard curates lists of places to eat, films to watch, events to attend, and more

  • Drivers can redefine their driving experience and personalize it for their co-passengers. For example, selecting a "romantic" mode to enhance the ambience when driving with a date

Intelligent Homes

  • IOET devices and appliances work cohesively to provide a personalized experience and strive to create a wholesome and peaceful atmosphere at home

  • AI-powered systems suggest mood plans for different rooms, enabling users to pre-plan and customize their home experiences

  • Emotion-sensitive home automation systems focus on noise cancellation between rooms to prevent negative experiences, potentially hindering opportunities for bonding and support

  • These systems may learn biases and deploy targeted noise cancellation based on the user's prejudices towards certain racial or ethnic groups

  • The IOET network accesses historical emotion data to predict future moods and emotions, enabling continuous automation to achieve desired emotional states

  • Devices collaborate to create desired moods, such as playing relaxing music, adjusting lighting, and regulating room temperature to enhance and uplift users' stressed moods

  • The IOET network adapts to individuals' preferences and relationships with guests and visitors. Homes transform their ambience based on the emotional dynamics of guests, enticing them to stay longer and enhancing their experience

Smart Watches

  • The smart watch serves as the primary interface to access and control other emotion-sensitive devices in the IOET network, such as home automation systems, security systems, and more

  • The watch analyzes the emotional tonality of voice messages and prompts users to modify the message to enhance emotional bonds with the recipient based on the quality of their relationship

  • The watch visualizes emotional health data over time, allowing users to gain deeper insights into their emotional trends and analyze triggers or events that caused certain emotions

  • The IOET network provides users with data-driven analysis of emotional triggers and suggests solutions, potentially impacting their relationships with others

  • Features like "auto accept" prioritize calls from trusted relationships, while "family emotion-data sharing" enables access to immediate feelings. However, these features can lead to sheltered social circles or potential abuse

Advanced Refrigeration Systems

  • These smart fridges are connected to the IOET network and have access to your biodata, such as body fat percentage, heart rate, BMI, and more

  • The fridge prompts users to store different types of food in curated sections. Based on your current emotional state, the fridge restricts access to certain sections. For instance, during moments of stress or anxiety, it makes the junk food section inaccessible to discourage stress-eating and promote healthier choices

  • Leveraging big data on people's emotions while consuming specific dishes, smart refrigerators suggest foods and recipes that are known to provide certain emotional experiences

  • AI algorithms learn biased beauty standards from datasets, leading to the enforcement of prejudiced ideologies through dietary suggestions. This may push individuals towards adopting self-destructive habits or developing eating disorders in an effort to meet certain emotional or societal expectations

  • E-commerce companies leverage emotion data to offer personalized promotions. For example, if the fridge knows you're feeling anxious, it offers discounts on products like beer or chocolates that are associated with calming effects, exploiting your emotional state for profit-driven marketing

Comfort Glasses

  • These smart glasses are connected to the Internet of Emotional Things (IOET) network, accessing users' emotional data gathered from multiple sources

  • They prioritize users’ peace of mind and emotional well-being. They hide images or posts that induce anxiety or negative emotions. They blur out or hide certain types of content based on users' emotional sensitivities. They replace disturbing images with augmented overlays to maintain a positive state of mind

  • They learn user preferences and provide personalised vision filters based on users' emotional and mood data. Filters can adjust to maintain a positive mood and enhance daily living

  • These glasses apply filters to diminish negative reactions to people of different races, genders, nationalities, religions, etc. There could be possible amplification of racist tendencies through filters, for eg: racist users might see people of different races with lighter skin color through the glasses

  • They intervene to improve the visual experience and shield users' eyes from discomfort such as reducing eye strain or filtering out harmful obscene, or controversial content

Advertising and Branding

The rise of emotion-sensitive technologies raises ethical concerns about privacy, manipulation, and long-term emotional health. I believe it is crucial to reflect on these implications before these technologies become pervasive. Through dystopian scenarios and visualizations, I aim to highlight the need for ethical considerations in IOET products. Companies should prioritize users' privacy, security, and works towards protecting our mental well-being and personal relationships. Transparent policies, secure data practices, and user consent processes are crucial. Engaging in global discussions and implementing ethical protocols will ensure responsible development and use of emotion-sensitive technologies. This project is a work in progress. Stay tuned! Check out more of my work below!


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