Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Familiarisation with equipment

Last Friday I participated in a trial experiment measuring physiological signals using images from IAPS as stimulus using protocol/software developed by Sazzad, Payam and Omar. There was also an additional experiment where they measured my physiological response from using an interactive tutoring program. I familiarised myself with the equipmen test setup and typical protocol used in recording physiological signals.

I observed some difficulties that my project will encounter:
  • The setup is a bit intrusive. The participant has to wear electrodes on part of their face and arms and movment is partially restricted. Too much movement will result in 'noisy' signals.
  • There are several types of sensors measuring arousal levels (ECG, skin conductivity, respiration rates), but only one type measuring valence (EMG).
  • Because of the above points, the stimulus must be of relatively short duration to limit movement and 'noise'.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Project proposal submitted

Project proposal was submitted on Friday. The title was: "Hedonics of Sports Fans"

Basically, I plan to use either live or annotated video footage of an NRL game as stimulus while recording a subject's physiological response. Events in a sports match might be easier to match to predicted emotions (e.g. you would expect a supporter to be joyful if their team scores a try, or be nervous if the scores are close).

Some difficulties I predict will be finding the right subjects and scheduling. The subjects need to have some sort of emotional attachment to the stimulus, so I need to find pretty big supporters of NRL teams, then schedule a session where I can record their reactions. A live observation of the match would be preferable, but this will be much harder to organize.

Also, meeting with Sazzad and Omar on Friday to familiarize myself with the test equipment (I am volunteering to be a test subject in one of their experiments).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Closing in on a topic proposal

Meeting with Rafa today resulted in a thesis topic: Hedonics of sports fans. Generally (in the field of affective computing) this involves measuring the emotional response of a subject when exposed to certain stimuli.

In this case, the stimulus will be a sports game and the user will be a fan of one of the teams playing. A sports game was chosen as emotional peaks should be easy to predict. For instance, if the user is a fan of a team, and that team scores a goal, try or point, then we should expect they would be have a positive valence of affect. If their favourite player gets injured or if their team loses at the last moment, then we might think that they would experience strong negative emotions. User affect should be much more objective and discrete in this stimulus when compared to other types of multimedia.

Which sport to use?
I was thinking of maybe using NRL (National Rugby League) coverage as stimulus, for the following reasons:
  • Games are frequently televised and it is in-season for the duration of my project. 26 rounds are played from March until Septempber (plus additional rounds for the finals), with up to 8 matches per round, all of which are televised (albeit, only 3 on free to air TV during the weekends).
  • I know of many friends who are pretty big fans, which should make signals easier to extract (I'm guessing they would exhibit stronger emotions).
  • Most of the televised broadcasts are live, which should also yield stronger physiological signals. If a game is a replay, then it would take some of the 'excitement' away.
I also considered using the NBA (Basketball) or A-League (Soccer) games for stimulus, but with the NBA playoffs starting in April, I felt there wasn't enough time or opportunity to have subjects watch a live game. Also, I didn't think there would be enough goals scored in a soccer match to collect signals from. Which brings me to issues:

Live vs Replay?
  • Viewing of a live game would almost certainly result in a stronger physiological response. However, it would be harder to organise and there would be issues in annotation (you would have to annotate on the fly, maybe keeping a record of who scores, or what you consider to be important moments in the match).
  • With a replay, you can annotate a video beforehand (thus collecting more accurate and numerous points of interest), but collected signals might be weaker.

Foreseeable difficulties:
  • Timetabling will be a tricky issue if a live viewing is chosen. I'll have to find strong supporters for the games and have them come in when the teams play.
  • Recording data for the entire game will have difficulties. It might be uncomfortable for a subject to be hooked up to the equipment for the length of a whole game (an NRL game lasts more than 80 minutes, Football matches go for over 90).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Deciding on a Project Proposal

After meeting with Omar today, I've narrowed my project proposal down to either:
  • An investigation into individual users' affect profiles when presented with stimuli.
  • Compare affect response using different types of stimuli (e.g. images from IAPS vs video clips).
The first choice would involve quite a bit of technical knowledge in either data mining or signal analysis, and would require a more specialized experimental protocol. The second choice would be easier to complete but I'm not sure if it is unique enough compared to previous studies.