OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

A wearable emotion "clock" to express feelings to forge connection & intimacy, and eliminate misunderstanding.

Sharing emotions is a way to connect people to one another, this idea uses a wearable device to show, express, share, & connect via emotions

Photo of Thao-Nguyen Le

Written by

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

This idea is for everyone involved in the end-of-life experience, from the patient to the caregiver to the family members, and potentially all areas where humans interact and need to forge a connectedness when there are many complex feelings involved. This idea is for a wearable device for everyone involved (could be high tech or low tech) that the user can display their feelings as a form of self expression or a conversation starter.

At the end of a life, there are many feelings involved from all sides and it can be complex to maneuver from all parties involved, from the caregiver to the patient to the family members. 

While connectedness is a critical part of living, when someone is near the end of their life, they might feel distant, disconnected, loneliness from those around them. The caregivers and the family members too will feel these disconnected feelings and misunderstanding will happen if complex feelings are not brought up and addressed. 

This wearable device could be high tech, or low tech where there are a set group of basic emotions such as Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, Fear, (this is from the movie Inside Out, but research can be done to decide which emotions to use in this device) plus one called "Ask Me" where the user would use the hand on the wearable emotional clock to indicate how he/she is feeling at the moment. There could be 2 hands, one for a primary feeling and one for a secondary feeling. 

Before anyone interacts with each other, but especially on the part of the caregiver and family member, they should indicate how they are feeling at the moment, and try to be honest to themselves about it. Then, they can approach the patient and ask how the patient is feeling and start a conversation based on the wearable emotional clock that the patient is wearing. Based on that, the caregiver or family member can also share their own feelings, displaying their own vulnerabilities, and forge a connection when both sides have shared how they truly feel.

This is also an opportunity to provide whatever support all sides can give to one another. For example if the patient was feeling particularly angry or sad, and if the caregiver is also angry and sad, they can commiserate together and share about how they have gotten out of those feelings in the past. If one side feels joyful and the other side does, this is also an opportunity to "cheer" the other person up by talking about gratitude and sharing joy. 

Through talking about feelings and connecting based on feelings after both sides have shown their feelings by wearing it, this is a chance to lift the other person up, or work together to lift both sides up, or simply to be there and cry together because sadness is also a natural feeling to have. 

All parties involved should attend a workshop either together or in 3 separate groups (for Caregivers, for Patient, for Family members) to learn about the device, and how to use it to foster connectedness. This workshop could be devised by the company with the wearable device, and based on research, and be led by competent people in the field of human emotions. This could be trained. 

-This idea was formed at a @NYCOpenIDEO popup session-

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I can get a group of friends together, especially some engineers to create/make some basic simple low tech emotion clocks with 6 quadrants as indicated above (Joy, Sadness, Digust, Anger, Fear, Ask Me) and test it out at a local clinic or hospital with a small group of Caregivers, Patients and Family Members. We can assess the project by testing it against another group in the same clinic/hospital not using the emotional clock. I would do preliminary assessment, concurrent and post evaluations

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Ask me questions to refine my idea. What are some of the ways why you might think it will work as well? How can I improve this idea? Suggest the materials and how I can build the prototype. Help me build the prototype.

Tell us about your work experience:

I love problem solving and seek out jobs/positions that will enable me to come up with ways to solve problems. I've worked in finance, startups, HR, and now I am doing business operations for a fitness company.

This idea emerged from

  • An OpenIDEO Outpost or Chapter
View more

Attachments (2)


Longer video-demonstrating how an exchange between caregiver and patient could happen with this wearable device


Short & sweet: The idea of the emotion clock explained in a video.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lee-Jung Kim

Thao-Nguyen Le , can you please add Kaiyi Liu and myself to your team? Looking forward to seeing you tonight!

View all comments