Gustavo J. Correa
Published on

Contact-Free Cognitive Load Estimation

Project Info

Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); MIT Media Lab, Responsive Environments Group

Project Members: Gustavo J Correa, Dr. Nan Zhao, Dr. Joe Paradiso (PI)

Following my Junior year at UC Riverside, I conducted research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as part of the 2018 MIT Summer Research Program (MSRPg). I worked in the MIT Media Lab Responsive Environments Group directed by Prof. Joe Paradiso.

My focus for the Summer was to extend the capabilities of the Mediated Atmosphere system. Mediated Atmosphere is a smart office that uses biosensors to measure a person's physiological state and optimizes the person's work environment in response to the measurements recorded. The image on the top right illustrates a prototype of the system which extends the design of a traditional cubicle-like office with the addition of a large projection source, sound source and wearable sensor. In the original version, the system would use readings from biosensors to update the environment's lighting, sound, and projection video to create a more comfortable work environment.

In the next iteration of the system, I investigated how we could incorporate measurements of a person's facial temperature profile, measured using a thermal camera, and correlate them with an estimation of the person's cognitive load to improve the work environment's conditions. Thermal cameras were selected as a possible contact-free approach of measuring a person's physiological state. I conducted within-subject experiments to observe facial thermal variations in individuals performing two cognitive tasks under different noise factors including ambient temperature, lighting, sound, and varying video projection sharpness. The image on the bottom left illustrates the image processing pipeline of overlaying the thermal image ontop of the visible light image to measure the temperature of the forehead and nose regions of a user. These regions may provide insight to the user's stress level and cognitive load. Additional research and experiments are needed to conclude the effectiveness of using thermal cameras to measure a person's cognitive load and use these camera measurements to reconfigure the Mediated Atmosphere environment accordingly.

Mediated Atmosphere Prototype
Mediated Atmosphere Image Processing


Mediated Atmosphere System Architecture
Gustavo at MIT
Media Lab Presentation

Mediated Atmosphere

Responsive Environments Group @ MIT Media Lab

MIT Media Lab

MIT Summer Research Program