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New Tech Reads Human Emotions

 

New technology will combine sensors with AI to read subtle signals from the body and analyse context to read emotions

Dolby Laboratory scientist Poppy Crum recently spoke at a TED conference in Vancouver regarding an upcoming technology that will be able to read human emotions. The technology will utilize sensors and AI in order to detect hidden feelings – everything from lies to infatuations. This cutting-edge tech is able to recognize a number of brain and body signals, turning sensor data into an analysis of emotional state.

Humans Broadcast Emotions

The underlying concept behind the new technology is that humans broadcast emotion. It’s something that we do all of the time, knowingly and unknowingly. Subtle signals are sent and received between us to indicate what we are feeling.

Eye dilation is an indicator of brain activity. Heat from the skin can be a sign of stress or even romantic inclination. Chemicals in the breath can reveal feeling; for example, the amount of CO2 exhaled in a breath can indicate aggression. Have you ever had your head in the clouds while pretending you’re listening to someone? Brain waves can show whether you are really paying attention. Even the timing of certain speech patterns can reveal signs that a person has bipolar disorder or dementia.

Subtle signals are sent and received between us to indicate what we are feeling. Eye dilation is an indicator of brain activity. Heat from the skin can be a sign of stress or even romantic inclination Click To Tweet

The End of The Poker Face

The upcoming technology can read these subtle signals from the body while the AI works to analyse patterns and factor in context to make more accurate interpretations of what the signals mean. Crum describes it as “the end of the poker face”. The technology will be able to read the stone cold faces of even the most talented poker players. Anyone planning to hide the subtle signals can think again!

Products are due to be released that include emotion-reading rooms, smart speakers and other accessories. Similar AI technology also exists. Alex Potamianos from Behavioural Signals is involved with a new technology that analyses emotions from speech. The “speech-to-emotion” AI can tell if you are happy, angry or feeling sassy, all by listening to your speech. Existing AI technology like Google Assistant is already quite impressive and is learning all the time.

Poppy Crum describes it as “the end of the poker face”. The technology will be able to read the stone cold faces of even the most talented poker players. Anyone planning to hide the subtle signals can think again! Click To Tweet

Scary and Powerful

Poppy Crum describes the new technology as being both scary and powerful – having the potential to be used for both good and bad. It could be used to understand each other better or to oppress and manipulate. Like all technology, it is a double-edged sword that needs to be wielded extremely wisely.

The world Crum imagines is one in which the emotional divide between people can be bridged. Crum envisions a world where counsellors can understand the emotions of their clients more quickly (and know how to act), police can read signals of aggression, and artists can see the emotional reaction that an audience has to their work. Instead of scanning through dating apps, you could scan people to see if they are interested (okay, it sounds scary again now). Crucially, rules must be set to make sure the technology cannot be misused.

Instead of scanning through dating apps, you could scan people to see if they are interested (okay, it sounds scary again now). Crucially, rules must be set to make sure the technology cannot be misused Click To Tweet

What do you think about the idea of AI scanning for emotion? Can and will it be used for the benefit of understanding and empathy, or are there simply too many possible misuses to trust it? How does it make you feel to know the new ‘data’ this technology will capture will be the data of raw human emotion?

 

Tom Atkinson is a Digital Producer & Photographer at R3Digital and Reviews & Dept. Editor at Tech Trends. Connect on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @R3Digital