Rosalind W. Picard

Affective Computing
  • Professor of Media Arts and Sciences
  • Co-Director, Advancing Wellbeing Initiative
  • Faculty Chair, MIT Mind+Hand+Heart

Rosalind W. Picard is founder and director of the Affective Computing research group at the MIT Media Lab and faculty chair of MIT's MindHandHeart Initiative. She co-founded Affectiva, providing emotion AI technologies, and Empatica, providing wearable sensors and analytics to improve health. Empatica built on top of Picard's work to create the first AI-based smart watch cleared by FDA (in Neurology for monitoring seizures). 

Picard holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering with highest honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and master's and doctorate degrees, both in electrical engineering and computer science, from MIT.  Prior to joining the MIT Media Lab faculty in 1991, she was a member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories, where she designed VLSI chips optimized for signal processing and developed new image compression techniques.

Picard's early research at MIT created new mathematical models that helped achieve the first content-based retrieval of digital images; her work also pioneered methods of automated search and annotation in digital video, including the creation of the Photobook system.  As she studied how the human brain perceives information,  she became convinced of the importance of emotion for making artificial intelligence and improving human-computer interaction and published the book Affective Computing, which became instrumental in starting a new field by that name. Today that field has its own journal, international conference, and professional society. Picard also served as a founding member of the IEEE Technical Committee on Wearable Information Systems in 1998, helping launch the field of wearable computing.

Picard is an active inventor with patents including wearable and non-contact sensors, algorithms, and systems for sensing, recognizing, and responding respectfully to human affective information. Her inventions have applications in autism, epilepsy, depression, PTSD, sleep, stress, dementia, autonomic nervous system disorders, human and machine learning, health behavior change, market research, customer service, and human-computer interaction.   

Picard has authored or co-authored more than 300 scientific articles and chapters spanning computer vision, pattern recognition, machine learning, human-computer interaction, wearable sensors, neurology, and affective computing. She is a recipient of several “best paper” prizes encompassing work on machine learning with multiple models (with Minka, 1998), a best theory paper prize for affect in human learning (with Kort and Reilly, 2001), a best Face and Gesture paper prize for work with facial expressions (with McDuff, Kaliouby, and Demirdjian, 2013), and a best UBICOMP paper for an automated conversation coach (with Hoque et al, 2013). Her paper (with Healey, 2005) measuring stress in Boston drivers was recognized as "best paper of the decade 2000-2009" by IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems.

 In 2005, she was named a Fellow of the IEEE for contributions to image and video analysis and affective computing. CNN named her one of seven "Tech Superheroes to Watch in 2015." Picard has been honored with dozens of distinguished and named lectureships and other international awards. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest professional honors accorded an engineer, recognizing her contributions to affective computing and wearable computing.  She is a popular speaker, and has given over 150 invited keynote talks.

Picard has served on numerous international and national science and engineering program committees, editorial boards, and review panels. Among them: the Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) division of Computers in Science and Engineering (CISE), the Advisory Board for the Georgia Tech College of Computing, and the Editorial Boards of User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction: The Journal of Personalization Research. She also serves on the board of advisors for Scientific American and is an advisor for the new ACM Transactions on Computing for Healthcare.

Picard interacts regularly with industry and has consulted for companies such as Apple, AT&T, BT, HP, iRobot, Merck, Motorola, and Samsung. Her MIT Media Lab group's achievements have been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, The Independent, National Public Radio, Scientific American Frontiers, ABC's Nightline and World News Tonight, TIME, Vogue, Wired, Forbes, Voice of America Radio, New Scientist, and BBC programs such as Hard Talk and Horizon.