No theory yet exists to explain why or how groups perform optimally, but this hasn't stopped researchers at a Sandia National Laboratories' Advanced Concept Group from trying to map the characteristics that correlate to personal-best performances.
Using all commerically available components, the team has created an anthroscope, called PAL. This anthroscope monitors your perspiration and heartbeat, reads your facial expressions and head motions, analyzes your voice tones, and correlate these to keep you informed with a running account of how you are feeling. It also will transmit this information to others in your group so that everyone can work together more effectively.
Technologies used in the project included accelerometers to measure motion, face-recognition software, EMGs to measure muscle activity, EKGs to measure heart beat, blood volume pulse oximetry to measure oxygen saturation, a Pneumotrace respiration monitor to measure breathing depth and rapidity.
Preliminary results on five people interacting in 12 sessions beginning Aug. 18 indicate that personal sensor readings caused lower arousal states, improved teamwork and better leadership in longer collaborations. A lowered arousal state the amount of energy put into being aware is preferable in dealing competently with continuing threat.
In 2004 we intend to integrate simultaneous four-person 128-channel EEG recording, says team leader Peter Merkle, correlating brain events, physiologic dynamics, and social phenomena to develop assistive methods to improve group and individual performance.
Check out the video of the anthroscope in action.
As discussed in Forecasting Happiness and Understand Emotions, Become Profitable, it sure looks like it won't be long before Wall Street traders start using anthroscopes to understand how their feelings impact their trading effectiveness.
Update: It is important to note that this technology is being developed for national security purposes. (see the Augmenting Cognition Program for more on this). Teams like intel opcenters, security monitoring centers at sites, and combat opcenters special teams. These are people who are willing to give up some personal privacy in exchange for privilege of serving others.
Note: For those of you that are interested, Sandia is supporting a $50,000 graduate fellowship to study the neurology of learning processes under the Caltech Campus Executive program.