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October 14, 2009

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Trading emotionally? Here's a warning

IT'S said that greed pushes investors to buy stocks when they're overpriced, while fear drives sales when stocks are at or near a bottom.

With that in mind, Philips Electronics has teamed up with a Dutch bank to develop a system warning home traders when they're about to make a decision to buy or sell stocks while feeling overly emotional. It's called "The Rationalizer," and a test model is on display at an innovation summit in Brussels this week.

It consists of an "EmoBracelet" that looks like it might come out of a science fiction film, and an light-emitting "EmoBowl" that rests near a trader's computer.

The bracelet supposedly feels emotional states and sends radio signals to the bowl. As the user's feelings intensify, the bowl glows yellow, orange and finally, red.

The emotion-detecting technology is a "galvanic skin response sensor."

"It's a very nice way of saying it measures the way you sweat," Philips' design arm director Geert Christiaansen said. He said the technique was surprisingly fast and accurate at detecting a person's emotional levels, though it doesn't distinguish between positive or negative feelings.

Paul Iske, who works for ABN Amro bank, said the system was favorably received by testers, and proved especially useful for men.

"Women are less emotional investors," he said. "Men have too much attachment to the underlying assets. Women don't have that as much."

The companies won't getting a product onto the shelves in time for Christmas.

"You may see bits and parts of the design in many products," Christiaansen said, "but not for years to come."


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