Emotional Responsive Clothing: How Does It Work?
Merchandising and Sourcing
What are Emotions?
Emotions are reactions to certain events based on the behavioral and psychological state of the person. Different types of emotions are reactions to different situations; different events justify the quality of the emotions. Emotions and feelings are two different concepts; emotions have reactions in the body whereas feelings are generated within our thoughts about those emotions.
The most significant signs of emotion are an increase or decrease in heart rate, sweating, face getting redder, etc. The various emotions linked to these reactions by the body, facial expression, and appearance are the most prominent when it comes to emotional response . In total, there are 66 different emotions, which are broken down into two different groups: 56 secondary emotions and 10 basic emotions (anger, anticipation, distrust, fear, happiness, joy, love, sadness, surprise, and trust) .
How are Emotions Translated into Signals?
There are many ways an emotion can be converted into a signal. One way to understand the emotion is to do a psychological evaluation of a person which is done by a psychologist. Another way to understand the emotions is by assessing the pulse of the person. When one tends to get nervous or anxious, the heart rate increases. By understanding the various patterns of the pulses to evaluate the emotional signals. The most accurate and approved technique in the medical field is to use of electroencephalogram (EEG) which studies the brain wave pattern and gives the appropriate readings .
Emotions are understood as brain waves in the medical domain, with different waves corresponding to various emotions. One can interpret these emotions by studying the brain waves, heart rate, blood pressure, etc., this is known as Automated Emotion Recognition. Automated Emotion Recognition is done by measuring and analyzing changes in different human body parts or electrical impulses in the nervous system. For example:- Electroencephalography, skin resistance testing, blood pressure, heart rate, eye activity, and motion analysis are the most often used methods.
To quantify the emotions following methods are used:
- Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) is also called electrodermal activity or skin conductance. The reaction to emotion cannot be controlled consciously, hence the skin shows variation in the parameters of minute electric activities. When it comes into contact with sweat, it gives variation that can lead to understanding the emotions .
- Skin Temperature Measurement method can be used to quantify emotions. It depends upon the heartbeat rate and sweat value. The sensor measures the temperatures of the skin surface and gives the results accordingly .
- Heartbeat Rate is a method that can be used to indicate emotions. The increasing and decreasing values of the heartbeat are directly related to emotional feelings; it can also indicate emotional intensity.
Ways to Use Emotional Responses into Clothing:
1. By using GSR sensors:
Galvanic Skin Response sensors can be used within the clothing, to sense the changes that occur due to the emotions. Generally, hand and foot areas are used to measure the GSR by using electrodes which can be applied to the skin easily. Then, the data is measured in micro-Siemen, and the hertz obtained is processed and transmitted to the computers. The data is studied according to the changes in the peaks according to the response of stimuli. Studies on emotions can benefit from the addition of quantitative data through the use of skin conductance measurements or the number of GSR peaks. It is simpler to detect new patterns and insights into human behavior when there is a larger amount of data available .
These sensors can be used under the cuffs, elbow area, color, chest, etc., of a garment to give the necessary results. However, it requires very skilled knowledge of engineering to fit the sensors into the garments, but it can be achieved easily.
2. By monitoring heartbeats:
The easiest way to translate emotions into a quantifiable number is to use devices that can sense heartbeats. Many devices can measure the heartbeat rate, the most common nowadays is the smart watches. So by monitoring the heartbeat rate, we can translate the basic emotions felt by the person into quantifiable data. When a person is facing a negative emotion, their heartbeat increases and blood vessels narrow, increasing the blood pressure. It also releases adrenaline, which is known as the fight or flight hormone . Positive emotions release dopamine and oxytocin which relaxes the body and stabilizes the blood pressure and heartbeat.
Hence, by measuring the heartbeat rate, we can use the signals to transform clothing. In a state of anxiety, a warming sensation can provide a sense of calmness. Hence, one can design the clothing around the response provided by the wearer.
3. By using thermochromic materials:
With different emotions, there are changes in the skin temperature due to the variation in the sweat produced and heartbeat rate. The thermopile sensors can be used around the wrist, forearm, neck, chest, etc., which can measure the temperature of the skin without contact. Skin temperature is also directly related to blood flow and therefore, the emotions can be quantified into real-time data.
The use of Thermochromic materials can be used in garment making to indicate different types of emotions. The temperature is sensed by the thermopile sensors and can translate into the thermochromic material to show different emotions.
Futuristic Use Case of Emotionally Responsive Clothing:
a) Psychology and Therapy:
By using Emotion Responsive Clothing, we can assess one’s mental health and the time when they are nervous or anxious. With the comfort of clothing along with technology, it will be helpful to understand the mental state of a person. In labor tedious jobs like the garment industry, one can use this technology to understand the workers’ situation better. Hence, it can result in a better work environment and performance.
b) Safety and Security:
Those who are disabled may not provide accurate responses to emotions verbally, Emotions Reactive Clothing can provide a better understanding of their emotions and avoid misinterpretation. Moreover, this technology can be incorporated into kids/teens’ apparel with the indication of their mental health. This technology can provide safety and security confirmation for the guardians of kids/teens.
Emotional Responsive Clothing has made its way through sports, but it is very minimal as of now. In sports, few wearables provide accurate data of the movement of the player but it is also important to incorporate the emotion of the player. It shows their concentration levels and nervousness, hence providing in-depth data on the player’s mental state.
d) Consumer Behavior:
A few technologies like Eye Tracking and AI Behavioral Learning are implemented to understand consumer behavior better. Emotional Responsive Clothing can allow better research on the behavior of the consumers. By creating a simple wristband that the consumers wear and then tracking their responses such as excitement over a particular product; we can track consumer behavior in a better way.
Emotional Responsive Clothing can be very helpful in terms of understanding the mental health of a person. By tracking emotion-responding measures such as blood pressure, heartbeat, and skin temperature to help assess the mental state. It has various applications ranging from Sports to Kidswear; moreover, it is applicable to a wide variety of domains. As technology improves there will be better readings and Emotional Responsive Clothing can be a futuristic approach to look after mental health.
 Textile Blog “Role of Clothing for Maintaining Body Temperature” https://www.textileblog.com/role-of-clothing-for-maintaining-body-temperature/
 “Human Emotion Recognition: Review of Sensors and Methods”, by Andrius Dzedzickis, Artūras Kaklauskas, and Vytautas Bucinskas, 2020 Jan 21.
 https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia – Emotion and Heart Health
 “Pain Management (Second Edition)” 2011, Pages 954-962
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Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.