What do companies read from your emotions?

 5 minute read

The emotion detection and recognition market has been forecasted to reach 65 billion dollars by 2023. Recognizing facial emotions is revolutionizing numerous industries including medicine, HR, and film. Customers expect companies to know their feelings and attitudes but still maintain their privacy. New opportunities for creating more personalized services arise and this article investigates the future possibilities of emotion recognition in various fields.

An artificial medical assistant

Facial recognition will be used as a tool to improve medicine and safety. AiCure is an AI company that uses facial recognition and computer vision technologies through an app for mobile devices to ensure systematic medication intake of patients. The app identifies the patient and the prescribed drug, as well as confirms whether the drug has been taken. This kind of service will be especially helpful for patients with memory problems that require consistent medication.

Emotions reveal more than words. This is why technologies are being developed to read subtle signals from facial expressions. Globally, over 1.5 billion people suffer from some sort of chronic pain. Traditionally, pain could only be treated when an individual subjectively told how they felt. This becomes an issue with patients that are not able to communicate their feelings, such as infants or patients that have lost their ability to speak. An app ePat detects subtle facial expressions, which are associated with pain. Users can additionally add data regarding non-facial pain cues, such as vocal and motor behaviors. The app then calculates an overall pain severity score. This is valuable data when dealing with individuals who are not often in contact with other people. The app can ensure that patients get immediate relief, instead of waiting until the next doctor’s appointment.

As much as facial recognition technology can be used to improve the treatment of patients, it can be used to prevent accidents from happening altogether. Subaru launched its new car model Forester that comes with EyeSight, Subaru’s driver-assistant technology. This technology can, through facial recognition software, identify fatigue and distracted behaviors, and thus suggest the driver take breaks. The software can recognize up to five drivers and offers each with personalized pre-set preferences. This feature could end up saving multiple lives as well as avoiding injuries, just by minimizing the risk of accidents.

Personalised service without effort

Emotions of consumers can be utilized in perfecting customer service. Market research is an industry that seeks to find out what kind of products specific groups of consumers are interested in. By placing cameras in retail stores, the behavior of customers can be analyzed to see how they react to products and, for example, the layout of a store. Disney experimented by using hidden infrared cameras in cinemas to detect the emotional expressions viewers had during their movies. After examining one audience member for a few minutes, the software could reliably predict their facial expressions throughout the rest of the movie. These data can be used in later movie production to ensure that all scenes generate the intended reactions in viewers. Unfortunately, consumers do not appreciate this way of perfecting services. A survey by First Insight found that 75% of consumers would not shop in a store that uses facial recognition for marketing purposes. However, 55% accepted the use of facial recognition if they would be acknowledged with, for example, a discount. How can companies research their customers’ behavior so that both parties concerned understand the benefits?

Predicting behavior

Job interviews of the future could be using emotion detection to gather a more complete picture of prospective candidates. Applicants to entry-level jobs at Unilever, a multi-national organization, go through a process where they perform a video interview with preset questions. AI then analyses their facial expressions to assess personality traits and mood. The software selects the best matches for a company and reports to a human recruiter along with notes about each candidate. According to HireVue, the company that provides Unilever with this software, Unilever managed to save 50 thousand hours of work over 18 months by moving its recruitment processes online with the video interview platform.

Facial recognition technology does not only help crime fighting when identifying perpetrators after a crime has already happened but also enables the law enforcement to prevent crime before it happens altogether. Cortica, an Israeli security company, is using AI to look for abnormal behaviors that indicate that someone is about to commit a violent crime. This way, by detecting facial micro-expressions of possible perpetrators, individuals can feel safer in public. How fast, however, can authorities be alerted about the noticed suspicious behaviors, and sent to deal with the issues before they happen?

Public concerns

Facial recognition software will revolutionize many industries in the future, from retail to city infrastructure. As the rules of GDPR came out in the EU, data privacy has been in the middle of a discussion that is yet to include regulations about facial recognition, and thus protect customers’ and citizens’ privacy and rights. It is now possible to control who gets access to an individual’s online data, but this is not yet the case when walking around in public. Many feel uncomfortable knowing that big brother is watching their every move and know what their preferences are. However, in this discussion, it is important to draw the line between commercial use and national security implementation of the tech.

Being able to recognize, and, in the future, predict real human emotions, creates a threat of new forms of manipulation. The second decade of the 21st century has revealed that information handling can have a drastic impact on voting behavior. Manipulating people with their emotions becomes easier, and provides an effortless way to exploit them. As discussed before, targeted advertising can be experienced as harmful and frightening. Yet, organizations with extreme control could use emotion detection to control that their members react to accordingly to their new suggestions. Will people of the future learn to hide even their smallest emotions in order to protect themselves from exploitation?

Insight Box

Facial recognition technology will improve health care and crime prevention. Emotion identification removes the communication problem between a doctor and patient. It is also a helpful predictive tool for social sciences and marketing efforts. However, facial recognition poses serious privacy and manipulation threats to individuals. Legislators have to find equilibrium between the technological progress and its possible ethical issues.

#AI #crime #facial recognition #future trends #GDPR #HR #market research #medicine
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