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Why Emotion Recognition Technology Is Important

In Digital Technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI), TechLeaderTalks by Scott

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Technology With Purpose Leader Interviews: 

Human Emotion Recognition With Technology

Clearly anything that can read emotions could be applied for both human good, but also for nefarious purposes. Our work is to maximise the good, and help protect against the bad.

Graeme Cox

CEO, Co-Founder emteq labs
Graeme joins me to talk about how understanding our emotional response in immersive environments can help improve health outcomes. He shares his views on the positive impacts of human emotion recognition, as well as the pitfalls we should be mindful of.

My Thoughts on the Conversation

Our emotions are constantly on display, whether we realise it or not. As humans, we interpret each other’s emotional states with every interpersonal interaction  - consciously or subconsciously. Giving computers access to this level of personal and intimate data has been a prickly conversation in the past few years, especially with the rise of surveillance and facial recognition technologies.

However, there is a positive side to technology that could enable automated human emotion recognition.  

In this talk with Graeme we uncover how the combination of sophisticated sensor technology and AI can be used within immersive environments, such as virtual reality, to create and deliver personalised therapies, helping people overcome anxieties, phobias or to deal with difficulty, dangerous scenarios, safely and more effectively. 

Related article: Find out more about emteq's emotion recognition technology in this previous article.

Graeme mentioned that globally, 7 out of 10 hospitalisations are a result of preventable habits or behaviours, and being able to reduce this by just a small amount could have very significant positive societal, health and economic impacts.

As such, a big part of Graeme’s work at emteq is working with research and health institutions to create more effective treatments for people suffering from behavioural disorders, mental health conditions, fears, and anxieties - something that has sky-rocketed in the last couple of years.

As I see it, the combination of emteq’s emotion recognition technology with virtual reality therapies could be used to provide clinically controlled therapies at home, without the complications of asking anxious, confused patients to attend regular clinics in strange or unfamiliar settings. As Graeme explains in the video, this could not only reduce the overheads of already thinly-stretched health practitioners, but could also increase the completion rates (and therefore the success rates) of therapeutical programmes and reduce costs.

Beyond the therapeutical applications of emteq’s technology, there are huge potentials for education and training, too. Understanding an individual’s emotional response to a given scenario holds the promise of creating immersive tools that adapt to how the participant is reacting, making the experience more challenging, more stimulating, or providing additional support. 

There are many studies that look to the power that immersive training and therapies can deliver (some are referenced in emteq’s Emotional and Psychological Well-Being white paper), but today’s technology lacks the emotional feedback loop. Implementing emotional feedback in virtual environments could create experiences that are uniquely tailored to the participant’s needs, thereby creating even more rewarding and effective programmes, that are truly unique for every user's specific need.

But with these intimately personal insights, there are also risks.

Graeme mentioned a Stanford VR study that was able to successfully identify a participants sexual orientation just by monitoring eye movements within a VR experience.

The level of detail emteq are able to extract is significantly deeper than just eye-tracking, so the potential for wrong-doing is much greater. Whilst we did touch on this and emteq's work with a little during the video, I spoke with Graeme afterwards and he pointed me towards a white paper that accompanied a roundtable they took part in on this topic. You can find the joint paper here.

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Scott is an Independent Technology Analyst, Content Writer and Connector of interesting people. Scott is a technologist at heart, with a history of technology innovation and marketing leadership roles. As the founder of this website and several other businesses, he is passionate about helping technology companies communicate their relevance and awesomeness in a way that engages and excites everybody. Get in touch with Scott here or connect with him on LinkedIn. Learn Scott's tips for content marketing, download his free template here..