before burning out, a phenomenon known as compassion
fatigue. Second, below-average social workers had trouble
improving, because their work was hard to quantify.
Feast was still ruminating on those lessons when, in 2005,
he won that Fulbright Scholarship in entrepreneurship,
which allowed him to study at MIT. One of Feast’s courses
there was a seminar consisting of guest lectures curated by
Pentland. For the past few years, the shaggy-haired, hyperenergetic Pentland had been focusing his investigations on
those unconsciously transmitted honest signals. Pentland and
his team were interested in how two strangers adopt each
other’s physical postures and intonations as they grow com-
Sandy Pentland (left)
and Joshua Feast.
The two met when Feast
took a Pentland-curated
seminar at MI T. Pentland’s
research on nonverbal
social cues gave
Feast the inspiration
for the company.
emphasis leaves an audience
with the sense that he or she
is well informed.
Among Pentland’s plaudits is this: He’s considered a
pioneer of wearable computing. (One of his grad students
created Google Glass.) To
conduct their inquiries,
Pentland’s team built a wearable device they called a
“sociometer,” a shoulder-mounted pack, roughly the