Emotion-detecting software isn’t new–Sony, for example, recently filed a patent for a “laughter detection” system–but a San Francisco-based startup called Affective Interfaces, launched at TechCrunch50, claims that it has developed an ultra-accurate system that can detect emotions correctly over 85% of the time.
The AI system, which is based on proprietary algorithms, uses Webcams to monitor facial expressions like smiles, frowns, yawns, etc. The data can be tracked in real-time as users watch video in order to pinpoint the exact moment that, say, a commercial triggers laughter or disgust. “If you’re looking for a dramatic moment in an ad, you want to know if it’s correlating with audience response,” explained Jai Haissman, AI’s chief executive.
Initially, AI is gearing its system towards ad agencies that could potentially save costs by removing human monitors from the equation. And while limited number of participants can take part in traditional focus groups, AI’s system allows hundreds or even thousands of users to join in.
The AI platform has uses that extend far beyond the advertising space. It could, according to Haissman, be used in everything from drowsiness detection in vehicles and dynamic video gaming engines to mood-based iTunes playlists and educational tools.
And what about concerns that the technology could be used for Big Brother-style spying? AI anonymizes all shared data and scrubs it of identifying information, but Haissman acknowledges that the platform could fall into the wrong hands. “Anything of power can be used for bad and good. We intend to use this for good,” he said.
AI still has a long way to go before moving into the mainstream. The company has bootstrapped to date, and is just now considering outreach to investors. But if the system is as accurate as Hassman claims, the company should have no trouble attracting data-hungry advertisers.