Affectiva technology taps into people's emotions

Apr 01, 2011 by Glenn Chapman
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).

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 enables computers powering websites to scan imagery for , , and that provide clues to 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."

Explore further: Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Glucosamine causes the death of pancreatic cells

Oct 27, 2010

High doses or prolonged use of glucosamine causes the death of pancreatic cells and could increase the risk of developing diabetes, according to a team of researchers at Universite Laval's Faculty of Pharmacy. Details of ...

Noisy workplaces can make workers deaf

Mar 10, 2009

The majority of the 650,000 employees from Quebec's manufacturing sector - specifically those working in metallurgy and sawmilling - are exposed to noise levels that exceed governmental norms.

How do patients diagnosed with schizophrenia communicate?

Feb 23, 2009

Negative emotional facial expressions dominate in the interplay with patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. This has been shown in previous research and has now been confirmed in a dissertation from the Department of Psychology, ...

Expressionless faces provide clues on how we read emotions

Apr 15, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- With smiles, grimaces or raised eyebrows, most of us show our feelings on our faces, but people with Moebius syndrome, a rare condition that causes facial paralysis, can't make any facial expressions at all. ...

Recommended for you

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

10 hours ago

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Neuroscientist's idea wins new-toy award

Apr 15, 2014

When he was a child, Robijanto Soetedjo used to play with his electrically powered toys for a while and then, when he got bored, take them apart - much to the consternation of his parents.

Land Rover demos invisible bonnet / car hood (w/ video)

Apr 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —Land Rover has released a video demonstrating a part of its Discover Vision Concept—the invisible "bonnet" or as it's known in the U.S. the "hood" of the car. It's a concept the automaker ...

Visions of 1964 World's Fair didn't all come true

Apr 12, 2014

Video phone calls? Yeah, we do that. Asking computers for information? Sure, several times a day. Colonies on the moon and jet packs as a mode of everyday transportation. OK, maybe not.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

(Phys.org) —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Unlocking secrets of new solar material

(Phys.org) —A new solar material that has the same crystal structure as a mineral first found in the Ural Mountains in 1839 is shooting up the efficiency charts faster than almost anything researchers have ...

Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects—specifically, ...

New US-Spanish firm says targets rich mobile ad market

Spanish telecoms firm Telefonica and US investment giant Blackstone launched a mobile telephone advertising venture on Wednesday, challenging internet giants such as Google and Facebook in a multi-billion-dollar ...

Progress in the fight against quantum dissipation

(Phys.org) —Scientists at Yale have confirmed a 50-year-old, previously untested theoretical prediction in physics and improved the energy storage time of a quantum switch by several orders of magnitude. ...