ThermalWear: exploring wearable on-chest thermal displays to augment voice messages with affect

Abdallah El Ali, Xingyu Yang, Swamy Ananthanarayan, Thomas Röggla, Jack Jansen, Jess Hartcher-O'Brien, Kaspar Jansen, Pablo Cesar

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Voice is a rich modality for conveying emotions, however emotional prosody production can be situationally or medically impaired. Since thermal displays have been shown to evoke emotions, we explore how thermal stimulation can augment perception of neutrally-spoken voice messages with affect. We designed ThermalWear, a wearable on-chest thermal display, then tested in a controlled study (N=12) the effects of fabric, thermal intensity, and direction of change. Thereafter, we synthesized 12 neutrally-spoken voice messages, validated (N=7) them, then tested (N=12) if thermal stimuli can augment their perception with affect. We found warm and cool stimuli (a) can be perceived on the chest, and quickly without fabric (4.7-5s) (b) do not incur discomfort (c) generally increase arousal of voice messages and (d) increase / decrease message valence, respectively. We discuss how thermal displays can augment voice perception, which can enhance voice assistants and support individuals with emotional prosody impairments.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
EditorsJoanna McGrenere, Andy Cockburn
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781450367080
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2020 - Honolulu , United States of America
Duration: 25 Apr 202030 Apr 2020
Conference number: 38th (Website) (Proceedings)


ConferenceInternational Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2020
Abbreviated titleCHI 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
Internet address


  • voice
  • prosody
  • affect
  • display
  • wearable
  • thermal
  • chest
  • emotion

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