The opportunities for technology are endless and there always seems to be new ideas for what is next, the most recent of these ideas is for technology that is able to react to our emotions. The field working on this idea is called affective computing, and it could soon be an important factor in the way in which people and computers communicate with one and other.
Affective computing aims to make computers interpret your body language to determine how you are feeling and then tailor its response accordingly, similar to how we as humans would respond to someone’s body language. Emotion is a very old way of communicating and was used long before spoken language, it is also still the principal way that we get information from each other. This is why we are able to instinctively recognise people’s emotional state. Emotions are a universal language and no matter where you are in the world you are usually able to understand a stranger’s emotion. Affective computing uses this to allow humans and computers to go past keyboard and use non-verbal channels of communication to good effect.
Computers will read our emotions in a similar way that humans do. It begins by connecting a variety of censors to the computer, such as microphones, cameras and skin conductivity devices. It then gathers varied information about the person’s posture, facial expression, gesture, tone of voice and more. Advanced software then processes the data and finds what your emotions are, it does this by referring to a database of known patterns. The pattern it finds may match to multiple emotions, if that is so then the system will use a feedback loop to learn and improve its accuracy.
These technological developments may be likely to worry some people and could raise concern for others over privacy and personal liberty. The legitimate concerns will have to be considered during the development of affective computing. Privacy laws will need to be strong and keep up to date with the progression made with the technology.