Nonverbal signals including facial expressions, gestures, voice tone and pitch, physical distance, fidgeting, and other measurable indicators add richness and emphasis to verbal communication. Because language is often imprecise and because many people are uncomfortable discussing their feelings, nonverbal content often holds the key to what’s really going on with people. Previously we’ve written about a bracelet that tracks emotional well-being and progress in software that can recognize emotions.

MIT Media Lab Denver-based spinoff mPath is developing Moxo, a wearable that detects emotional response. Moxo is a wristband with two wired skin conductance sensors that fit on the wearer’s index and middle fingers of the same hand. Changes in conductance reflect sympathetic nervous system activity and physiological arousal. According to mPath, conductance spikes can signal stress and frustration and dips may indicate disinterest or boredom. Initial applications of Moxo include working with companies to measure consumer reaction to various products or presentations, studying individual reactions during tooth brushing, and analyzing audience reactions to compositions presented by the New World Symphony. mPath has also paired Moxo with GoPro cameras to measure human reactions in a process the company calls “emotyping.”

Future applications of mPath’s work in education, commerce, and industry are planned. The hoped-for upside results of tracking emotional reactions include enhanced learning, increased comfort, and better understanding of the way people react to a wide range of stimuli and environments.