AWIS Summer of Science Spotlight 2023_Jocelyn Scheirer

Thank Jocelyn Scheirer for helping to pioneer today’s advancements in wearable technology

Jul 10, 2023

by Jocelyn Scheirer

Introduce yourself and describe your work

My name is Jocelyn Scheirer. I have been part of the field of Affective Computing since its inception in the mid-1990s. I’m an inventor and designer of technology and have co-founded several companies that use Emotion AI technologies.

What do you consider to be your most important career achievement or discovery?

I invented and patented an early device that was the first wearable, washable biosensor. We called it the “Galvactivator”. It has been referenced in dozens of books and papers. I attempted two companies based on the technology, and it has been licensed by others.

During times of imposter syndrome or feelings of discouragement, what or who helped you persevere?

Certainly, my colleagues and groups such as AWIS. My husband, who is also a scientist, has been a constant source of support. Also, giving talks and speeches about my work and receiving questions and comments from the public always bolstered me and made me realize how much I do know.

How does your work impact people and the world around us?

When our field first started, people wondered why emotions and computing would ever matter. As the years have gone on, it has become more and more part of our culture. From facial expression recognition to medical devices, it is only now that some of our work is beginning to come of age.

What is a unique fact about your career/industry?

It is only about 30 years old. I feel extremely grateful to have been able to have watched the birth of an industry from its inception until now. My graduate advisor, Rosalind Picard, invented the field of Affective Computing at MIT in 1995, the year before I became her student.

What advice do you have for other women or nonbinary individuals considering this field?

It’s a hugely growing field! From recognizing the emotion of drivers to the increasingly artificial agents that need models of empathy, to monitoring of patients’ well-being with wearable devices — understanding the affective part of interaction with humans is part of the next frontier of AI.