Swedish glass maker Kosta Boda (formerly and perhaps better known as Kosta Glasbruk) recently held an auction with a difference. Billed as the first of its kind, the auction accepted bids not in money, but in emotions. Bidders were first hooked up to a heart rate monitor and a GSR (galvanic skin response) sensor before being shown a piece of the company's famous glass art for the first time. They were then assigned a bid based on their emotional response as measured by the sensors. Over 300 people bid for three pieces of glass art with a combined value of €25,400 (around $34,500).
While interesting in concept, the auction raises some questions about how to accurately measure emotion. Both GSR sensors and heart rate monitors comprise part of polygraph "lie detector" tests. Studies into the accuracy of such tests have shown it is possible to manipulate the results with careful planning, and many have questioned their general accuracy, some going so far as to call polygraphy, and in particular GSR, an inaccurate pseudoscience. Of course, it's unlikely that any of the bidders attempted to trick Kosta Boda into parting with its expensive glass, but whether the prizes in this fun promotional auction truly went to the most emotionally deserving bidders is up for debate.