Wearable Technology Provides Public Speaking Support

April 7, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

Individuals who struggle with public speaking, social situations, or customer service interactions could benefit from a new wearable technology devised by the University of Rochester's Human-Computer Interaction Group.

Individuals who struggle with public speaking, social situations, or customer service interactions could benefit from a new wearable technology devised by the University of Rochester’s Human-Computer Interaction Group.

Rhema, which means “utterance” or “things said” in Greek, is a Google Glass-based application that gives the wearer feedback on his or her volume and speaking rate.

The researchers had individuals with autism in mind when developing the Rhema prototype.

“This project allowed users to become self-aware by providing real-time feedback on social behavior,” the researchers wrote in a paper presented at the 20th Association for Computer Machinery Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces.

The inventors of the device, which is also known as ROCSpeak_Glass, conducted several experiments in an effort to limit the amount of distraction emitted from application’s feedback.

A study involving 30 subjects demonstrated that sparse feedback was better than continuous information. Specifically, the researchers discovered feedback that appeared every 20 seconds was more effective than continuous comments on the user’s volume and speed.

Subjects were more likely to prefer feedback in the form of words, such as “louder” and “faster,” as opposed to feedback via a bar system that changed in color from red to green to encourage the user to proceed in the direction of louder, quieter, faster, or slower.

Overall, the subjects found value in the application and were more likely to say it improved their speech compared with those who did not receive any feedback, as well as those who received continuous feedback.

The program is now available for download.