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Student is developing music app to regulate emotions


April 28 2015


A DJ who worked with some of the top bands of the nineties is developing an app that could regulate emotions.

Darryl Griffiths, currently studying for an MPhil/PhD at Glyndŵr University in Wrexham, has created a number of studies looking at how different songs can influence emotion, environment and activity.

He has already received interest from a contact from Kings College, London who studied at Cambridge University and wants to develop a mobile music application for clinicians that can automatically regulate an individual's mood by using music as a medium.

Having already received a first class honours degree in creative media computing at Glyndŵr University he decided to pursue a postgraduate under the supervision of Stuart Cunningham and Jonathan Weinel and is now working towards a PhD in automatic music playlist generation using affective computing technologies.

The 38 year-old has recently acquired data from one of three participatory self-report online music survey that asked the public to rate 20 songs from 20 genres with respect to emotion.  

He said: “The results from this particular music survey has provided a useful statistic for the proposed system framework, and they will be presented at the Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Internet Technologies and Applications (ITA15) at Glyndŵr University in September.

“My main aim is to collect the emotional and environmental data and to put it into a system that will deduce how the listener is feeling and what they are doing, having employed a range of electronic Arduino-based sensors.

“For instance, if somebody was relaxing on a beach, they may want their phone or mp3 player to select some soothing music to accompany them. On the other hand, they may be at the gymnasium and want their device to choose some upbeat music to assist them in achieving a better work out.

“In conjunction with the sensory data, the system will judge as to ‘what the user is doing’, and ‘how the user is feeling’ by utilising various affective computing technologies including audio signal processing and machine learning technologies.

“So far into this research, a range of environmental and physiological data has been obtained from a group of users whilst they carried out a particular activity (e.g. running in the gymnasium) in order to validate the sensory data from the Arduino-based sensors.

“The sensors used in this instance were outdoor temperature and humidity, ambient light, GPS, an accelerometer, heart rate, and galvanic skin response (GSR).

“With all of that environmental and physiological data, I will then evaluate the music tracks that we have used for the survey and eventually be able to devise a system with a dynamic music library which will automatically adapt to the listener’s context i.e. their emotion, environment and activity.

“There are studies out there similar to this but nothing aimed at producing remote technology that can be used on a mobile phone in real-time, for example.”

He added: “I want the next experiment to establish if there is a correlation between a person's physiological responses and music, and the low-cost element is important. As I said I want this to be a mobile application using mobile technologies and not something you would use at home with more expensive equipment.”

As a producer and remixer with 19 management in the 1990s and 2000s, Darryl worked with artists including Brand New Heavies, Juliet Roberts, Boyzone’s Steven Gately and Kelly Bryan (Eternal), as well as forming another musical partnership and featuring on various mix CD compilations such as Hed Kandi, Housexy, and StereoSushi.

Today, most recordings from his latter venture are available via online music vendors including Beatport, Last FM, iTunes, Spotify, and others under the production name of ‘Groove Invaderz’.

A sponsor is another one of his long-term targets, but for now Darryl’s primary aim is securing more data and building a system framework that is fit for purpose.

“I am confident about the project but there is a long road ahead and a lot of work involved to get it off the ground, so I hope people will be able to take part in my present and future experiments and help me on my way.” he said.

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