A Comparison between Laboratory and Wearable Sensors in the Context of Physiological Synchrony

Jasper J. van Beers, Ivo V. Stuldreher*, Nattapong Thammasan, Anne-Marie Brouwer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
135 Downloads (Pure)


Measuring concurrent changes in autonomic physiological responses aggregated across individuals (Physiological Synchrony - PS) can provide insight into group-level cognitive or emotional processes. Utilizing cheap and easy-to-use wearable sensors to measure physiology rather than their high-end laboratory counterparts is desirable. Since it is currently ambiguous how different signal properties (arising from different types of measuring equipment) influence the detection of PS associated with mental processes, it is unclear whether, or to what extent, PS based on data from wearables compares to that from their laboratory equivalents. Existing literature has investigated PS using both types of equipment, but none compared them directly. In this study, we measure PS in electrodermal activity (EDA) and inter-beat interval (IBI, inverse of heart rate) of participants who listened to the same audio stream but were either instructed to attend to the presented narrative (n=13) or to the interspersed auditory events (n=13). Both laboratory and wearable sensors were used (ActiveTwo electrocardiogram (ECG) and EDA; Wahoo Tickr and EdaMove4). A participant's attentional condition was classified based on which attentional group they shared greater synchrony with. For both types of sensors, we found classification accuracies of 73% or higher in both EDA and IBI. We found no significant difference in classification accuracies between the laboratory and wearable sensors. These findings encourage the use of wearables for PS based research and for in-the-field measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICMI '20 - Proceedings of the 2020 International Conference on Multimodal Interaction
EditorsKhiet Truong, Dirk Heylen, Mary Czerwinski
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-7581-8
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2020
Event22nd ACM International Conference on Multimodal Interaction, ICMI 2020 - Online, Virtual, Online, Netherlands
Duration: 25 Oct 202029 Oct 2020
Conference number: 22


Conference22nd ACM International Conference on Multimodal Interaction, ICMI 2020
Abbreviated titleICMI
CityVirtual, Online
Internet address


  • Auditory
  • Autonomic physiology
  • Group
  • Physiological synchrony
  • Selective attention
  • Wearable sensors
  • 22/2 OA procedure


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