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 sceptical 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 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. First, allow us to briefly define the concept, so that it can act as a starting point for our further exploration. To put it simply, emotion AI represents a field of study that focuses on studying and creating systems that are able to identify, analyse, interpret, and express human emotions. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Affective computing is an emerging technology that has entered various domains; 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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