Affectiva technology taps into people's emotions

Computers may soon understand people better than their spouses do, courtesy of innovations from startup Affectiva that expand on groundbreaking sensing research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Affectiva co-founder and MIT professor Rosalind Picard showed off the fledgling firm's feelings-sensing applications at a Web 2.0 Expo that ended Thursday in San Francisco.

"Feelings are complicated," she said. "Now, we can begin to measure them and learn."

Affectiva technology enables computers powering websites to scan web camera imagery for facial expressions, eye movements, and gestures that provide clues to emotional reactions to anything from film scenes, to game action or ads.

"It is getting past wishful thinking and wondering to understanding what is really going on, and that makes it much more actionable," Picard told AFP.

"We all have trouble reading emotional cues when we are on the Web," she continued. "Everybody who has been there for a while has been misunderstood at some time."

People with Web cameras connected to computers were invited to try the technology by viewing a set of ads online at an "Interactive: Analyze Your Smile" page at forbes.com.

Picard provided a glimpse at a "Q Sensor" that can be strapped to a wrist or ankle to assess when people are excited or bored. The sensor measures electricity being conducted through the skin to determine arousal.

A research version of the Q Sensor was available, with a consumer model due out by the end of the year.

"There are therapists using this, there are parents using this, we had a lawyer buy one the other day to measure his own stress," Picard said as she pointed to a Q Sensor on her wrist.

"Anywhere there is emotion, there is an application."

Affectiva has built prototype eyeglasses with a small camera and other technology in the frames.

Wearers engaged in conversations are signaled with tiny green, yellow, or red lights when they are being captivating, losing a companion's attention, or should simply shut up, according to Picard.

Research that led to the startup came from efforts to read the feelings of people with autism or other conditions that rendered them unable to effectively use words to communicate.

"We can't replace all the words they want, but at least we can read if their frustration levels going up and they are ready to explode," Picard said.

"I just saw that we could make a difference in people's lives with something to help them be better understood," she continued. "That is what we are really after."

Picard also envisions Affectiva technology helping people to better understand themselves and avoid situations like "buyer's remorse" by letting their true feelings govern a purchasing decision.

"This is going to be amazing for the science," Picard said. "We could really finally understand what the heck is going on with how people communicate emotionally."

News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas
film
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Content Manager

    £26000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Content Manager is re...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Application Developer

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

    £14000 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will b...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee