Friday, January 8, 2010

Emotional Computing

A common feature that videogames developed roughly after I stopped having the time to play them is "anti-frustration features," that notice when a player is playing badly, and dials back the difficulty to keep the player from becoming too frustrated. And the reverse, because what's fun about games is the challenge. So expert players suddenly have a much, much harder game, just like they like it.
I read an article last night about how a computer can measure the stress level of the user by the way that they type. A frustrated user has a different rate and tempo of entry than a calm one. Combined with the previous fact, this gives me an idea.
The "Emotional" computer platform would measure typing patterns, and when stress was observed, attempt to make the user interface easier. If I were designing this further, I'd want a psychologist and an Apple designer (Apple computers being famous for their intensive user-interface research) to help, since some "helpful" ideas in computing have proven to be the most annoying. Clippy the anthropomorphic paperclip, for instance. Microsoft intended for him to be helpful. Instead he made millions of users wish their computers could feel pain.
Idea number 2: "Torture the computer" button. Complete with recordings of screaming, pleading, and wimpering. Now the computer will "suffer" for crashing while you had four hours of unsaved novel written!

4 comments:

Ocean Girl said...

Yes, Ipod's screen can sense human touch. It'll reject anything non-human. That is beyond user interface!

ralleywolf said...

An interesting idea, however I see one flaw in this. Having the computer being able to measure the users frustration so that it can make the user interface easier, is a neat trick. But a well designed user interface should always be as easy as possible. What your proposing sounds to me like adding an extra layer of difficulty to the system that the computer can remove when it sences the users frustration.

Pawl Bearing said...

death to clippy

themadengineer said...

One well designed user interface may be better -- that's the selling point of Macintoshes since 1984.
However, there are also power users who expect a powerful interface with a trickier learning curve, so I think the best interface would start in easy mode, and have an option to switch it to a more complicated "power user mode." On the detection of frustration, it returns to easy mode.
And the I-Pod thing is interesting. (I don't own one.)

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