Computers that can hear emotion in your voice…

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Emotions Analytics can piece together different factors in order to better identify complex human emotions. Futuristic or creepy?

For humans, it’s sort of easy to judge what a person is feeling by the way they talk. Loud voices usually mean someone is feeling angry, while hurried talk probably signals a person’s restlessness. It’s not as easy for computers to do, but with software from the company Beyond Verbal, that may change.

Their software is called Emotions Analytics, and it can judge a person’s emotional state using real-time voice recordings. The program features more than 18 years of research and incorporates work from Yeshiva University psychologist Robert Plutchik. How does it work?

Emotions Analytics is able to recognize eight basic emotions in human speech. By combining these 8 elements in a special algorithm (formula), the software can identify complex human emotions.

For example, say a person’s voice is analyzed and sounds anxious. The program would code this as “anticipation+fear.” Or, if a person’s voice sounds disappointed, it would be a result of “surprise+sadness.”

In 2009, a call company incorporated the software into their strategy. If a light was flashing green, it meant that a customer on the phone was in a good mood. Alternatively, a red light meant the person was not in the mood to talk. After a few short months, the company saw productivity gains between 10% to 40%.

I wonder if my laptop will soon be able to know what I’m feeling?

Featured image courtesy of LJR.MIKE on Flickr. Image of emotional diagram courtesy of Beyond Verbal.