MoodLight is a playful system that uses ambient colored light to provide feedback regarding an individual’s current stress levels, encouraging reflection and non-judgmental self-awareness.

Recognized stress management techniques include cultivating mindfulness, breathing exercises, and meditation. While these approaches have been shown to mitigate the negative effects of stress, they can be difficult to learn or consistently apply. To address this challenge, we developed MoodLight, a playful system that uses ambient colored light to provide feedback regarding an individual’s current stress levels.


MoodLight uses the Philips HUE interactive lighting system hardware and API. Three types of LED lightsproduce a relatively wide range of colors and intensities

The MoodLight system explores the potential of an interactive system to facilitate reflective mental health practices. Electro-dermal activity (EDA) sensors read biometric data about an individual’s current arousal level; this information is fed into an interactive lighting system; and fluctuations in arousal level are interpreted as changing colored light.

One of our key interests in running a recent design probe was to explore the possibility of supporting healthy social interactions about stress management through the deployment of technology rather than in spite of it. Our study included a number of opportunities to observe social interactions about, through and as a result of using MoodLight.

Building from the design probe, an experimental study is currently underway that compares use of the system in under a range of conditions designed to test the effects of cooperation and competition in “relax-to-win” game design.

Jaime Snyder, Mark Matthews, Lindsay Reynolds, Emily Sun, Jacqueline Chien, Adam Shih, Jonathan Lee, Geri Gay

Snyder, J., Matthews, M., Chien, J., Chang, P. F., Sun, E., Abdullah, S., & Gay, G. (2015, February). MoodLight: Exploring Personal and Social Implications of Ambient Display of Biosensor Data. In Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (pp. 143-153). [ ACM | PDF ]


EDA readings are collected via a small hand held sensor (left) and are sent automatically via bluetooth to an Android device, which in turn sends information to the programmable LED lights (right). This information is used to control the hue of ambient lighting conditions in a room, essentially controlling the output of the lights with input representing the participant’s current experience of stress or relaxation.





As a user becomes less aroused (“relaxed”), the lights move toward the blue-violet end of the spectrum. As he becomes more aroused (“stressed”) the lights move toward the red end of the spectrum.




Pairs interacting with MoodLight during the design probe study.


Skip to toolbar