Researchers in England have come up with a way to enable computers to tell if you are bored or interested in what you're seeing on the screen, a development that could help develop better digital learning experiences.
In a study led by Harry Witchel, Discipline Leader in Physiology at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), subjects were found to make fewer "non-instrumental movements" -- tiny involuntary movements in areas like the head and thighs -- when at rapt attention with what they were viewing. A handheld trackball was used by 27 study participants to limit their usual involuntary movements.
Dr. Witchel said in a statement: “Our study showed that when someone is really highly engaged in what they’re doing, they suppress these tiny involuntary movements. It’s the same as when a small child, who is normally constantly on the go, stares gaping at cartoons on the television without moving a muscle."
Understanding this phenomenon better could be applied to the development of artificial intelligence programs, video games and other offerings that could change up content to stay in synch with a user's attention level.