What brought a world renowned Consultant Reconstructive Plastic Surgeon together with an expert in software development and AI?

The answer is somewhat intriguing – human emotion. In the first episode of Emotion Lab, Graeme Cox and Charles Nduka open up and tell us the personal stories and motivation that led them to work on emotion AI. Listeners will find out how an inspirational movie led Charles to his life mission and how Graeme’s experience in the film industry and triathlons helped him realise his interests in behaviour and performance management.

Being able to communicate and express our emotions can be sometimes taken for granted. Communication is the core of human interaction. It makes us humans and enables us to collaborate with others. However, for many patients, who suffer from birth anomaly, facial disfigurement or accidental injuries, this fundamental ability is often taken away.

Although plastic surgery can be very successful, often it’s not enough for full recovery from facial paralysis. Rehabilitation without feedback and tangible results can be daunting leading to some giving up. The social and psychological impacts on those affected are tremendous, Charles explains in the episode. What happens when your smile becomes a grimace?

When one’s intentions are distorted, they can be treated differently, which can lead to withdrawal from society and loneliness – which is actually a bigger cause of premature death than obesity and alcohol consumption. Charles’ explanations of muscle telepathy and stories about patients help us truly understand the problem of facial palsy.

Charles and Graeme are now driven to develop a technology measuring facial muscle intent and activity, providing feedback for self-guided therapy and allow patients to feel confident to go out to the world. As part of their journey, through Emteq, they are discovering a whole new way of appreciating and understanding human emotions and communication, consistently placed at the frontier of our understanding.

Emteq turns emotional state into data using VR, multiple biometrics and machine learning. That information can be invaluable to researchers and those interested in behavioural management and change as it offers a new paradigm for studying human-human and human-digital interactions. Not only can it improve the quality of research but enable some in the first place.

From the perspective of healthcare, being able to improve one’s communication and interactions plays a powerful role in improving mental and physical health.

Through the Emotion Lab Podcast, listeners will be able to step into the exciting world of human behaviour research. Interviews with experts across academia, healthcare and technology, from neuroscientists, mental health experts, or even gaming enthusiasts, will provide new insights into the topic, spark discussions and explain abstract concepts. Our goal is to spread awareness about the topic, provide the context for anyone interested in these areas and to bring people together to discover how research on human emotions can be advanced.

Join us on our learning journey to understanding human emotions and behaviour.