“Embodied empathy: Incarnation of Human Emotion and Cognition in Space Using Artificial Intelligence and Affective Computing” is among the Best of 2022 Winners and one of the “2022 Design Educates Awards” Honorable Mention projects in the Responsive Design category.

Design Educates Awards (DEAwards) recognize, showcase, and promote globally the best educational ideas and implementations of architecture and design. Each year, the esteemed panel of judges selects outstanding ideas and implementations in the categories of architectural design, product design, universal design, and responsive design. Many architectures and design awards recognize and promote the “beauty” of successful design. But the Design Educates Awards goes one step further. We do not just want to see aesthetically and technically pleasing designs—we want something that offers true added value.”

Embodied Empathy Installation.

Embodied empathy: Incarnation of Human Emotion and Cognition in Space Using Artificial Intelligence and Affective Computing

What if our spaces could convey information about unspoken feelings and could be the extension of mind and body? How can we create a reciprocal relationship between the human mind and the built environment, allowing them to shape one another? Wisteria is an extension of its visitors’ minds and bodies. It is an emotive intelligent installation that performs real-time responses to people’s emotions, based on their biological and neurological data. Here, by integrating artificial intelligence, wearable technology, sensory environment, and adaptive architecture visitors can change the color and form of the installation using their brains and emotions.

This installation is a tangible reverberation of the mind in space. Here, space is filled with a forest of cylindrical fabric shrouds that suspend from the ceiling. Upon sensing the presence of an occupant, using a programmable material (Shape Memory Alloy), the shrouds begin to fluctuate, expanding and contracting the volume of the space and forming the space based on visitor presence. Embedded within each shroud is an LED that activates with the actuation of the SMA. The shrouds are arranged to create a distinct spatial progression and bring forth a heightened perception of scale and awareness of oneself within the space. Using Affective computing or Emotion AI, this project created a cyber-physical space that blurs the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. It uses real-time emotions from neurophysiological data as the agent of change in the environment.

Person exploring the Embodied Empathy Installation. The atmospheric qualities of the space are determined by the occupant’s emotions detected in real-time using smart wearable and affective computing algorithms developed by us. This system translates a set of biometrics (e.g. heart rate, skin electricity, blood volume, and temperature) into emotional categories and changes the shape and color of the space accordingly to moderate the emotion. If stress is detected, space begins to morph; the ceiling rises and expands the interior volume, and colors brighten. Wisteria intends to behave as an embodiment of human emotion in the physical and built form. Utilizing a merger of advanced emotion detection systems, smart programmable materials, and a developed cellphone app by us it can express and solicit emotions through non-human representation in the space.

The result is an immersive spatial experience that gives the visitors a key role by activating the space upon their involvement. Visitors are given an indication of their emotional states, and thus a tool to enhance, mitigate, or simply become aware of their emotions. This installation demonstrates how spaces can become living organisms with lifelike behavior learned from users, responding to their emotions in real-time. Within this project lies a singular objective; to reconcile the relationship between humans and architecture, and to redefine this relationship as one of emotional empathy and active compassion.

Participant category: Team of students
Company name: Morphogenesis Lab, Washington State University
Location: Pullman, WA
Team: Team Name: • Morphogenesis Lab – Washington State University Collaborative project with interdisciplinary team of undergraduate and graduate students from Architecture, Computer science, and Interior Design: • Design and Fabrication: Mona Ghandi, Mohamed Ismail, Marcus Blaisdell, Shanle Lin, Aisha Marcos • Programming & Electrical Engineering: Marcus Blaisdell, Sal Bagaveyev • Photos & Video: Mohamed Ismail, Nicole Liu