26 May 2017
New Wrexham Glyndwr University degree to create 'emotionally intelligent' devices
The UK’s first degree course dedicated to developing skills to create emotionally intelligent devices - which can respond to how happy, sad or angry someone is - will be offered by Wrexham Glyndwr University.
Hands-on experience of working with experimental, interactive systems will be at the heart of the new MSc in Affective Computing at the north east Wales institution.
Demand for professionals with specialist skills in this emerging field is expected to surge over the next 10 years.
The development of technology such as facial, voice and gesture recognition is providing new opportunities to create computers which adapt their behaviour depending on the user’s mood.
The programme develops skills and expertise in the fields of artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, and big data analysis and the opportunity to produce emotionally intelligent and aware technologies has a huge amount of commercial and life-changing purposes.
Smart devices that will select a song from a streaming music service according to whether the listener is happy, sad, energetic or feeling lazy, for example, could be close to reality, says course leader and Reader in Computing, Dr Stuart Cunningham.
Likewise, household devices that could change the mood of the lighting in your living room when you get home from work depending on what kind of day you’ve had.
Students will be given opportunities to design, construct and test affective technologies using sensors and other equipment provided by the University in problem-based learning scenarios.
Stuart said: “The course is about creating technology that is aware of how people feel. The potential is there and it’s a huge area for growth. Affective computing is going to be an essential skill for all software developers in five years time.”
Postgraduate student Darryl Griffiths is already developing an app that could regulate emotions with responsive music, using facilities provided at Wrexham Glyndwr University.
Sensors measuring outdoor temperature and humidity, ambient light, GPS, an accelerometer, heart rate, and galvanic skin response (GSR) have already been used to test a process that selects music tracks depending on a user’s activity, such as being in the gym or relaxing.
Stuart added: “The research which Darryl has been carrying out is exactly the type of thing that students on the course will be encouraged to explore. Affective computing will soon touch every aspect daily life and the expectation will soon be that every device we interact with should be able to intelligently respond to its human user on an emotional level.”
The MSc Affective Computing is open to computer science and technology graduates with relevant knowledge and experience. It is available to study full time over one year or part-time over two-and-a-half years.
For more information or to apply, visit https://www.glyndwr.ac.uk/en/Postgraduatecourses/MScAffectiveComputing/
Visit Wrexham Glyndwr University open day on Saturday June 10 from 10am-2pm. Call enquiries on 01978 293439 for information.