Dr. Rosalind Picard

Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT Media Lab

Lecture Information:
  • April 29, 2016
  • 2:00 PM
  • ECS: 241

Speaker Bio

Rosalind W. Picard, ScD, FIEEE is the founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Group at the MIT Media Laboratory, co-founder of Affectiva, Inc., which delivers technology to help measure and communicate emotion, and co-founder and Chief Scientist of Empatica, Inc., improving lives with clinical quality wearable sensors and analytics. Picard is the author of over two hundred peer-reviewed scientific articles in multidimensional signal modeling, computer vision, pattern recognition, machine learning, and human-computer interaction. She is known internationally for her book, Affective Computing, which helped launch a new field by that name. Picard was a founding member of the IEEE Technical Committee on Wearable Information Systems, also helping launch the field of wearable computing. She is a graduate with highest honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology and holds Masters and Doctorate degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT. Picard is an active inventor and her group’s inventions have been twice named to “top ten” lists, including the New York Times Magazine’s Best Ideas of 2006 for their Social Cue Reader, used in autism, and 2011’s Popular Science Top Ten Inventions for a Mirror that Monitors Vital Signs. Picard has been married for over 25 years and has three sons with whom she enjoys many activities.


Almost two decades ago I set out to create computational systems that would have emotional intelligence. My team and I designed and built the world’s first wearable sensors for classifying human emotion using pattern analysis, machine learning, and signal processing. Since then we have advanced many new ways for extracting affective information from speech, physiology, facial expressions, and more. In addition to spawning new research, this work has led to start-up companies including Affectiva, who has collected more than fifty billion emotion points from the faces of viewers who opted-in to turn on their cameras, and Empatica, who makes wrist-worn sensors collecting physiology data 24/7. In this talk I will tell stories to highlight the most surprising findings during this adventure. These include a mistake about the “true smile of happiness,” discovering that regular cameras (and smartphones, even while in your pocket) can compute heart rate and respiration even without attaching sensors, finding electrical signals on the wrist that give insight into deep brain activity, and learning of surprising implications of wearable sensing for autism, anxiety, depression, sleep-memory consolidation, epilepsy, and more.