The increasing use of artificial intelligence looks set to revolutionise the pharmaceutical industry over the next few years.

There are implications for drug discovery, the development of highly targeted precision medicines and the potential to identify new treatment targets and repurpose existing drugs.

But one area that could be particularly significant is the introduction of affective computing and social signal processing to clinical trials with the potential to make such trials more efficient and effective.

Affective computing, sometimes referred to as Emotion AI, is the study and development of systems and devices that can recognize, process, and interpret human emotions. It combines computer science, psychology, and neuroscience to create systems that can infer human emotions and allow individuals and clinicians to respond appropriately. Social signal processing expands that with the analysis of expressive behaviour that is not rooted in affect, such as nodding to signal agreement.

At BlueSkeye AI myself and my team are building on 18 years of academic research in the field of affective computing and social systems processing to create what we hope will become the most-used technology for ethical machine understanding of face and voice behaviour trusted to measure the mind through the use of ubiquitously available, affordable technology.

Our clinical grade technology uses machine learning to objectively and automatically analyse face and voice data, (the only company in the field that does) to interpret medically relevant expressed behaviour and help clinicians, patients and their friends and families assess, treat and monitor health, mood and mental state.

Available as a software development kit that allows you to create your own companion apps running on a smartphone or tablet, such technology has the potential to revolutionise clinical trials in three main ways:

Data collection: affective computing can collect patient generated data which is reliable and repeatable at scale. It also offers, for the first time, the objective measurement of data that could previously only be obtained subjectively e.g facial expressions, gaze, speech acts, head actions, and body gestures.

Adherence to treatment: monitoring patients’ emotional states, will allow trial sponsors to identify patients who are at risk of non-adherence and intervene to improve their outcomes.

Enhancing the trial experience: affective computing can be used to make the trial experience more engaging and less stressful leading to improved patient satisfaction and better trial outcomes.

As a consequence researchers will be able to run trials with lower dropout rates and better quality data which will mean more efficient and more effective research.

To ensure wide scale adoption, data privacy, data security and patient care will be vital.

At BlueSkeye we’ve designed our software, called B-Healthy, with a privacy first approach. Data collection and storage is minimised wherever practical, and we process all data on people’s own devices, without using the cloud. Users can choose who they share their data with, and when they do it is always over end-to-end encrypted channels.

Helping educate the user to protect their privacy will also be important. Participants can be encouraged to protect their data with the phone’s operating systems security measures (FaceID, finger print, PIN) to prevent any unauthorised access to their phone.

Researchers, I know, also take their responsibilities seriously considering where they store their data,who has access and how they use passwords and encryption to protect data.

However privacy and confidentiality cannot be absolute. Research teams have a duty to ensure the patient’s safety and intervene if there is an imminent threat to self or others.

An ethical, patient focussed use of affective computing has the potential to change the way clinical trials are performed producing better results more consistently at less cost.

We are now keen to take this further and want to work with Clinical Research Organisations or pharmaceutical companies who would like to learn more about B-Healthy and work with us to put our technology to the test.

Get in touch with at

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