Your Next Computer May Know How You Feel

Apr 14, 2010

( -- Friends, loved ones and pets can sense your mood almost instantly - and one day your computer may be able to do so pretty quickly as well.

UT Dallas scientist Yang Liu has received a three-year, $350,000 grant from the highly competitive Air Force Office of Scientific Research's Young Investigator Research Program to explore emotion recognition and modeling in speech processing.

“The next-generation human-computer interaction interfaces will be more human-centered and socially intelligent,” Liu said. “They’ll have the ability to detect changes in the user’s affective behavior and thus initiate interactions accordingly. Automatic recognition of emotion plays an important role in developing future intelligent systems.”

Emotion is associated with various physical indicators, including facial expression, , tone of voice, word usage and movement. Liu and a team of graduate students will focus primarily on emotion recognition and modeling in speech.

They’ll study features such as pitch, intonation patterns and word usage and then associate those with emotions such as anger, sadness, happiness, surprise and frustration. Other efforts to gauge emotion from speech have achieved an accuracy rate of 60 to 80 percent. Liu hopes to improve upon those numbers.

“Automatic recognition of emotions with high accuracy still remains an elusive goal,” she said.

But her research adds a cultural component.

“We’re interested in studying the cross-lingual aspects of emotion in English and other languages, such as Chinese,” Liu said. “This way we can look for the influence of culture and language in emotions.”

She’s doing the research in collaboration with several other UT Dallas faculty who are working in similar areas.

The research could drive a virtually unlimited range of applications. A tutoring system, for example, could detect frustration or boredom in a student - a sure sign the student is not learning and a different approach is needed - perhaps triggering the application to slow down the lesson or load a different one. An interactive voice-response system that detects anger or frustration in a customer might transfer that person to a human operator. An emotion component could be added to a polygraph or lie-detector system used by law enforcement. And such technology could assist in non-pharmacological treatment of social anxiety disorders.

Liu first became interested in speech and language processing as an electrical engineering undergrad at Tsinghua University in Beijing. She joined UT Dallas in 2005 as an assistant professor in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science after completing postdoctoral work at the International Computer Science Institute (where she also conducted most of her PhD research) in Berkeley, Calif. She received her PhD in electrical and computer engineering from Purdue University in 2004. Her other research interests include speech summarization of meetings, spoken dialogue systems, natural language processing, and machine learning and data mining.

Explore further: EU open source software project receives green light

Related Stories

Can't Make it to a Meeting? Send a Computer Instead

Aug 06, 2009

( -- If you’ve ever wished you had an assistant to attend meetings with you, take notes and produce a concise summary, then you’ll be pleased to know that UT Dallas computer scientist Yang ...

Smart lighting within reach

Jan 04, 2007

It's not often that an engineer finds inspiration for their research at the ballet. But for University of Queensland graduate Aaron Tan, the theatre was the perfect place to start his search for smarter lighting design.

Google developing a translator for smartphones

Feb 09, 2010

( -- Google is developing a translator for its Android smartphones that aims to almost instantly translate from one spoken language to another during phone calls.

Can you see the emotions I hear? Study says yes

May 14, 2009

By observing the pattern of activity in the brain, scientists have discovered they can "read" whether a person just heard words spoken in anger, joy, relief, or sadness. The discovery, reported online on May 14th in Current Bi ...

Recommended for you

EU open source software project receives green light

Jul 01, 2015

An open source software project involving the University of Southampton to extend the capacity of computational mathematics and interactive computing environments has received over seven million euros in EU funding.

Can computers be creative?

Jul 01, 2015

The EU-funded 'What-if Machine' (WHIM) project not only generates fictional storylines but also judges their potential usefulness and appeal. It represents a major advance in the field of computational creativity.

Algorithm detects nudity in images, offers demo page

Jul 01, 2015

An algorithm has been designed to tell if somebody in a color photo is naked. launched earlier this month; its demo page invites you to try it out to test its power in nudity detection. You ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Apr 14, 2010
I really love what technology can do, but sometimes I really wonder if it's wise...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.