Measuring Honest Signals using Sociometric Badges

This project is using new sensors embedded in wearable "social badges" as a kind of "information microscope" to systematically analyze organizations at a much finer grained level than has been done before. We are applying the technology of reality mining, which uses sensor data to extract subtle patterns that predict future human behavior. These predictive patterns begin with "honest signals," human behaviors that evolved from ancient primate signaling mechanisms, and which are major factors in human decision making in everything from job interviews to first dates. By using data from mobile phones, electronic ID badges, or digital media to track these honest signals, we can create a "god's eye" view of how the people interact, and even "see" the rhythms of interaction for everyone in a city.

Social BadgesSocial Badges  Picture 1: Sociometric Badge Picture 2: A Jazzband using sociometric badges.

Our research on reality mining infers human relationships and behavior by applying data-mining algorithms to information collected by body-worn sensors that can measure location, physical activity, and more. The impact of these tools and methods touches all aspects of our daily lives. Models generated by analyzing data from both individuals and groups could enable automated security settings, smart personal assistants, and monitoring of personal and community health. Of particular interest is the analysis of “honest signals of creativity” extending the concept of “flow” to the group level trying to better understand what drives team creativity by looking at interaction patterns of team members. We are currently working on different projects, among others studying social signals of software developers in distributed and co-located teams, of researchers in the health care area, school children participating in extracurricular science activities, and Jazz musicians.

Picture 2 illustrate a Jazz band, wearing our sociometric badges, where we have shown that the more the band moves in synch, mirroring each other’s body movements, the more they get into flow.

Management insights based on Honest Signals were named a "Breakthrough Idea of 2009" by Harvard Business Review, and Reality Mining was declared "a technology poised to change the world" by Technology Review.

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