The Emotional Computer – Part 2


Business WeekEarlier this month in Mood-Sensing Advertisements, we described research being conducted by Cambridge prof Peter Robinson on an “emotionally aware” computer. While that phrase may imply a degree of emotional sensitivity that won’t arrive for decades, Robinson’s experimental PCs record and analyze facial expressions, matching them to a database of 20 facial movements and 24 facial feature points to infer the mood of the user.

This story continues to have legs… now, BusinessWeek has done a story on Robinson’s research, This Computer May Be Too Smart. True to form, the story works in one use of both “Big Brother” and “Orwellian”, but it provides a nice overview of some of the useful applications of the work. On the plus side of the jargon equation, the article does make big, bold use of “neuromarketing”, and some relevant text:

Robinson also has gotten inquiries from online retailers and computer service providers, such as IBM, who envision tailoring their products to the emotional state of consumers. While surfing the Web, for instance, your computer could determine if you liked certain products and then modify content to your individual tastes or alter advertising to fit your mood.

The use of Robinson’s emotionally aware technology to improve company sales represents the latest advance in neuromarketing—the study of the brain’s response to marketing to measure consumer preferences. “Neuromarketing can help predict what products people are going to choose,” said Dr. Gemma Calvert, director of Neurosense, a British consulting firm.

We like the conclusion of the article, too:

The Cambridge professor is adamant that his mind-reading computer won’t discern someone’s innermost thoughts. Instead, he says it will let computers adapt to users’ needs by monitoring their moods. In the future, Robinson’s machine may even shed some light on the emotional state of the British.

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