Don’t Worry Be Happy

A Emotion Enforcing Text Editor

Jun 2, 2016 · 5 min read

Writing is a magical medium. It allows us to think clearly and communicate quickly. Writing has instigated revolutions, ended empires and started love stories. How and What we write, is heavily influenced by our mental state. Don’t worry be happy is a emotion enforcing text editor, only usable if you are happy*.

State of Mind

Writing is a ancient practice. Recently discovered neolithic writings have been dated to the 6th millennium BC. From Papyrus to MS Word: Tools seek to empower authors to write — and be more creative, more of the time. In the digital age, a tsunami of tools is transforming how we write. Yet, a primary factor of the creative processes is often overlooked: our mental state.

Most writers know this situation: You are sitting in-front of a blank page, and don’t know how to start. Overcoming such mental-blocks is a key ingredient of any successful writing strategy. Mental States are a important factor for creativity, that heavily influence actions and outcomes: try writing a happy story or song, when you are in sad state.

Mental States are modulated by habits, environments, practices such as mediation and usage of tools. In this context it is interesting to ask: “How do writing tools impact my mental state?” or simply: “How does using MS Word make me feel and why do angry emails and comments exist?


Don’t Worry be Happy is a Emotion Enforcing Text Editor. It uses your web-cam to track your face and tries to read your emotions. You have a limited amount of time to write a story. If you are not happy*, all progress is lost. Once your done, share your story. For extra fun, check out the image feature and hardcore mode. Most importantly: Be Happy* :-)

Don’t Worry Be Happy is a experiment, exploring how to build creative systems that actively influence our mental state. It playfully promotes awareness and enforces mental-states during the creative process.

Thanks to the availability of large datasets and machine learning techniques, emotion tracking is making progress. State-of-the-art systems track a wide range of emotions with great accuracy. While some systems are open source, using them interactively on a website as service is hard.

Don’t worry be happy uses the clmtrackr javascript library for fitting facial models to faces in videos — in your browser. It tracks your face and outputs coordinate positions. Finally, the current emotion is estimated across four categories: angry, sad, surprised and happy. Under the hood, it uses an implementation of this paper.


Happiness is a mental-state that many people experience regularly, but is hard to define. Don’t worry be happy uses a specific, naive definition of Happy*. At times it is inaccurate, transforming the writing process into facial gymnastics. Nevertheless, writing with Don’t Worry Be Happy for even 2min has a tangible impact on your mental-state: You start to smile and laugh.

“What i like about laughter, is that that when people laugh, they can change their minds”@DalaiLama

A string of scientific studies are revealing the positive impacts of laughter: Improved memory capabilities, higher calorie burn rate, lower cortisol and stress levels, improved pain tolerance. Yet, arguing that MS Word, Gmail or facebook promote laughter and happiness, is a joke.

Emotional Media

“Emotional Media” is a general propose design pattern, with a wide range of use-cases. An emerging generation of applications is enabling us to actively modulation our mental-states - and then use this data to optimise creative processes. The following two work-in-progress experiments, explore the possibilities of the Emotional Media pattern further:

— 1. HappyDay — convolutional neural network based emotion detection system that runs all day. Data is browsable and correlated with data such as music and food choices. — 2. HappyMirror: HappyMirror is a emotion enforcing make-up mirror. The mirror checks your emotions. If your not happy, the mirror turns black. Check it out online!

10 Emotional Media Examples

EmotiveModeler — An Emotive Form Design CAD Tool

Learn Piano with BACh — Adaptive Learning Interface that Adjusts Task Difficulty based on Brain State

The most dangerous writing app — Hats off to this project for inspiration!

Affectiva — Emotion Detection as Service.

Alice — Read emotion from person’s drawing

Emosaic — text emotion visualizer

Thoughtforms — Use brain activity to build 3D forms that are 3D printed.

Face2Face: Real-time Face Capture and Reenactment of RGB Videos

Real-time emotion detection with Google Glass

Laughing Yoga

Final Thoughts

In a world where cameras and sensors are everywhere, mental-state detection and behaviour prediction are the frontier. Apple, Google, Facebook, Military and Advertising are investing. While ethical concerns around mental-state and behaviour change systems are substantial, Emotive Media holds great potential for the design of systems that transparently support our well being. A central question is: “How do we apply AI to reduce anxiety in work, supporting confidence & enjoyment, allowing us to be more creative?

Get in touch here: @samim |

Emotional Robotsangry, surprised, happy and sad

Follow up Discussion


Written by


Designer & Code Magician. Working at the intersection of HCI, Machine Learning & Creativity. Building tools for Enlightenment. Narrative Engineering.

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