The potential of emerging wearable physiological sensing in the space of human-subject studies
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In recent years, novel sensing means in the form of smartwatches and fitness trackers with integrated sophisticated sensing emerged on the consumer market. While their primary purpose is to provide consumers with an overview of rough-grained health-related metrics, these signals offer to pick up fine-grained changes within the human body. This thesis considers the suitability of these novel wearable sensing devices to be used in affective research. Firstly, and based on the work with concrete state-of-the-art wearables, issues around the access of research-suitable data are discussed. The findings are put in context by examining common wearable device architectures and data access means provided. The discussion concludes with aspects researchers need to consider when seeking data access from state-of-the-art or future wearables. Secondly, two research probes explore the application of four exemplary devices to detect stress and affect in the wild and in the lab. Issues around the data reliability and participant comfort arose. The experiences are reflected upon to provide researchers with a summary of aspects to consider when applying wearable sensing devices in affective research. Lastly, this thesis contributes a Design Space for Physiological Measurement Tools. This design space was evaluated with a qualitative study enquiring research experts experiences. The resulting Design Space presents seven distinct dimensions of factors to consider when choosing a wearable sensing device for research. This design space has been applied to a novel sensing device which was used for a study on interpersonal synchrony. The insights and the ‘Design Space for Physiological Measurement Tools’ provide researchers with a tool to apply when they consider to use wearable physiological sensing devices in research.
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