Training Algorithms for Emotional Intelligence
Waltham, Mass.-based Affectiva says it has analyzed 2.6 million face videos from people in 75 countries. In doing so, the company has gathered more than 7 billion emotion data points to train its algorithms to detect expressions across a wide variety of ethnic and age groups. In the nearly five years since the company’s start, Affectiva’s software has been used by 1,400 brands to measure people’s responses to everything from product testing to advertisements.
There’s good reason to do so. “Brands know that an emotionally engaged consumer buys your products,” says Gabi Zijderveld, Affectiva’s vice president of marketing.
Hollywood studios now use Affectiva’s technology to test new movie trailers, even pinpointing—by the second—which segments of the clip make the most impact. Kellogg Co.’s European executives used the software to monitor the emotional reaction to commercials for the manufacturer’s Crunchy Nut cereal. They used the data to decide to put more money and airtime behind the ad, which proved to be still funny on repeated viewings.
Beyond Marketing Apps
Future uses of emotion analytics software extend beyond marketing. Professors teaching online courses could see when students get bored or confused and could tweak lessons accordingly. Doctors could screen for depression and detect pain during telemedicine visits. Politicians could use the tool for polling. Employers could screen job applicants by asking them to make a video of themselves instead of sending a resume. Cars could be able to detect when you’re sleepy at the wheel. “In the future, we believe an emotion chip will be part of smart devices,” says Zijderveld.
Already, Skype competitor ooVoo Labs is working with Affectiva to build a number of apps, including one to be released later this year that can reveal emotions during mobile video chats. The software could shed light on a long-distance business negotiation, such as detecting a smirk that reveals you’re not persuading the other party. “Creating an emotional layer over live video allows for more intimate communications,” says JP Nauseef, managing director of ooVoo Labs.