Affective Computing – What is It and How It Impacts Industries

Affective Computing - What is It and How It Impacts Industries
2 Feb 2022

Disciplines surrounding systems’ ability to recognize, understand, and simulate human emotions have given rise to quite a bit of controversy; however, the value and importance of the insights provided by such interdisciplinary fields cannot be disputed even by the most skeptical specialists. This is one of the reasons why affective computing, otherwise known as emotion artificial intelligence, or affective AI, has seen such a growing interest, becoming part of strategies that companies and industries are looking to implement.

But what exactly is Affective Computing, also known as Emotion AI?

Affective Computing - What is It and How It Impacts Industries

Affective computing, also known as emotion AI, is a field of study within artificial intelligence that focuses on developing machines and software that can recognize, interpret, process, and respond to human emotions. It involves using various technologies such as computer vision, natural language processing, machine learning, and robotics to understand and simulate human emotional responses. The goal of affective computing is to create more empathetic and human-like interactions between humans and machines, which can be applied in various fields such as healthcare, education, entertainment, and customer service.

But before revealing the many ways in which affective computing can benefit businesses and industries alike, let’s take a look at how the emerging technology works. This computer science branch, that brings together elements of psychology, biomedical engineering, and, of course, computer science, was first introduced in 1995, by scholar and inventor Rosalind Picard, whose paper on the aforementioned innovative technology was published by the Institute of Technology (MIT) Press.

So, how does affective computing work?

The aim of affective AI is to enable machines or systems to recognize and interpret human feelings, and thus, offer improved assistance and superior responses to users. This technology wishes to address the interaction between humans and computers, and enhance users’ experiences with machines. In this sense, in order for computers to be able to satisfy humans’ emotional needs, they must gather information surrounding aspects such as voice tone, expressions of the face, or body language. And how do systems collect this data? Well, through physical sensors of course, that come in the form of microphones and video cameras, which can detect movements, capture gestures, perceive changes in voice or tone, and even micro-expressions of the face. Moving forward, machines analyse the previously mentioned data, learning from past experiences and pre-accumulated information, and are therefore able to adjust their reactions and responses according to users’ moods.

Having said all this, it is reasonable to assume that whoever manages to make strategic use of affective computing, will be enjoying many benefits and will be gaining what is maybe one of the most important perks, namely a competitive advantage. So it was only natural that experienced companies, start-ups, and major industries alike would begin to try and adopt emotion AI, in order to reap the benefits that the emerging technologies has to offer.

Affective computing solutions in the medical world

In healthcare, affective computing assists physicians in providing a more accurate diagnosis and therefore, a more effective treatment plan to their patients, especially when it comes to diseases such as depression, schizophrenia, or dementia. Wearables that perceive emotions are also helpful tools for doctors, who can closely monitor patients’ state, and immediately take action in case it is needed.

As for telemedicine, this area too has been positively impacted by affective computing, as healthcare providers are able to respond to patients’ emotional needs in a superior manner, even from a distance, therefore improving patients’ satisfaction and gaining their trust.  

Applications of affective computing technology in education

Another industry where artificial emotional intelligence has been successfully applied is education. The latter makes use of physical sensors so as to lend a helping hand to teachers in better understanding their students’ needs. Special video cameras and microphones enable machines to track and observe changes in pupils’ facial expressions, gestures, and tones, and, as a result, teachers can adapt their lessons and techniques, to best suit their students’ requirements.

What’s more, many challenges that e-learning comes bundled with, can be overcome with the help of affective computing, by means of which distance no longer represents an obstacle for teachers. In this regard, studies have shown that an affective computing technology-powered e-learning system would not only solve issues revolving around emotion deficiency, but also enhance learning efficiency.

Impact of affective computing on marketing

Marketing is yet another field that benefits from the implementation of affective computing, and consumers have felt the positive changes as well. By integrating emotion artificial intelligence, businesses are able to present their clients with enhanced offers and products, and satisfy customers’ needs. The latter’s reactions represent valuable insights to companies which can make better decisions regarding inventory, and even marketing campaigns and products.        

Furthermore, the emotionally personalized experience, that companies have the opportunity to offer to their clients with assistance from affective computing, can extend to service robots and digital platforms. By enhancing the latter with emotional intelligence, companies will be offering consumers unique experiences, and even real-time personalization, based on emotion.


Affective computing is an emerging technology that has impacted various industries; from healthcare and education, to marketing and customer service, emotion AI has brought many advantages to businesses operating in different areas. Although the use of affective artificial intelligence has remained a subject of controversy, specialists can agree that the innovative technology assists companies in better understanding their clients’ needs and wants, which represents a valuable advantage in today’s world.   

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