I stumbled across the website today for the Galvactivator. It’s a glove that’s a skin conductance sensor with a light built into it that lights up at higher levels of conductivity. Made by some folks at MIT.

Website is here: *
As you may know anxiety/emotional arousal is one of a number of things associated with higher levels skin conductivity. Here's a plot of data from their website, showing changes in skin conductivity.
I could see something like this having useful applications for therapy.

One of the major reasons therapy hasn’t worked out for me has been that I didn’t feel like the therapist understood me. We’re very out of sync. These therapists can’t all be so out of sync with all their clients. Something I’m bringing to the table must make it more difficult. Aside from the obvious problem of my attachment issues, I think it’s possible that my facial expressions are also harder to read than average.

I’m very practiced at hiding reactions. It’s not that I don’t show facial expressions, of course I do, but there’s a lot that’s hidden too. It’s not at all unusual for me to get a sudden panic about something while in class or a meeting. My heart rate will go out of control, but no one notices, because my face doesn’t show it (at least not that I’m aware). A lot of this unintentionally carries over to my therapy. I’m sure it complicates things if they’re working from fewer visual clues.
S.M (the one therapist who gets me, but sadly does not work in the area) has a particularly large chair in his office. He’s commented to me how he can tell when I’m getting upset by how far down I’ve slid down the chair. Sometimes I nearly fall out. Therapy is a cycle of sliding down the chair and then realizing I’m going to fall out and sitting up again.

Something like this could be an interesting tool in therapy, because it would be an added piece of visual information about a client’s emotional state. It does get suspiciously close to the fantasy of wanting mind reading I was once accused of by a therapist, but is safer, because it would still be up to the wearer to choose to share the content/cause of the emotions.

What do you think?

It’s too bad they’re not for sale. The faq says someone is looking into making them for sale though, so maybe they’ll be available eventually. I would definitely buy one.

*It’s a shame the website uses frames, really I expect better webcoding from MIT. It’s not 1998 anymore. Also in-line CSS and tables used for layout. Eww. Why? Maybe the website is old?

8 thoughts on “Galvactivator

  1. Very cool. Like a real scientific mood ring. My t isn’t very good at reading me either. Once when I was extremely suicidal he commented that “You seem very annoyed today.” Huh? I guess if you are good at hiding your feelings it makes communication even that much more important. I’m not very good at communicating, or showing my feelings. I could use one of these.

    • “scientific mood ring”! I love that!

      What I like about it is that it could help facilitate conversation because I could get called out on it lighting up and my attempts to hide it. So it could be used as a tool to improve communication.

  2. Oh wow! What do we think? We want one! Like right now! lol

    We could see it being so useful for people with anxiety disorders, panic attacks, stress, and even aspergers and autism. For me, I was thinking more than using it during therapy sessions it would be a good tool to have to possibly let me know I am having higher anxiety or a panic attack. There have been several times that a panic attack started and I didnt realize what it was until I was in the middle of it or it was over. I could practice calming myself by using tools given to me by my counselor or getting out of a situation given a “warning light” that my anxiety was getting too high. Also, being that I am diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, it would be extremely interesting to me to see the baseline, or different baselines of the light for different personalities in the same body. We are wishing we knew how to make one of these things lol!

  3. Hi there,
    If you scroll to the bottom of my latest post, I’ve given you a blog award if you’re interested to check it out. I’ve been enjoying your posts – cheers!

  4. This is awesome! I do want one, but I’d put it on my gf. No–I want to put one on my therapist! I’m not sure how I would handle wearing one. I think I would become obsessed with it in private but be extremely anxious about it in public or in therapy. Either way would throw off the data. Still–pretty neat!


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