Emotion AI: human-machine communication 2.0

In today’s technological environment, communication is increasingly being filtered through digital media. Rather than having a face-to-face conversation, we interact with others via text messages or schedule a video call. We scroll through items on online shops and if there is a question, we ask chatbots. This digital filter offers several conveniences but comes with its share of limitations as well. Quite often, communication is distorted, questions are misunderstood and this leads to the growing frustration of the user.

But, what if we could optimize current technology to help in times when it hampers us. One possible solution that futurologists and trend researchers are excited about is emotion AI.

How does AI detect emotions?

Emotion AI also referred to as affective computing, basically deals with detecting emotions through artificial intelligence. Machines equipped with emotional intelligence are capable of understanding cognitive as well as emotive channels of human communication. This allows them to detect, interpret and respond succinctly to both verbal and non-verbal signals.

In the field of research, there has been a lot of development in imparting an emotional understanding to machines. Machine learning and deep learning are two technologies synonymous in this regard. Using these technologies, image and speech recognition systems are used as input for machines. This allows the machines to learn how to detect and understand a smile or change in a person’s vocal tone. There have also been notable advancements in working with parameters like skin temperature and heart rate, which are practical measures used for developing wearables that are as smart as possible.

The enormous potential of emotion AI

Emotions influence our behavior and actions enormously. This can also be considered true along the customer journey from a marketing perspective. When customers experience positive emotional associations with a particular brand, they are highly likely to be loyal to that brand than if they brought associations or memories that are negative. As a result, for brands wanting to improve their customer experience, they should implement a system that doesn’t solely rely on rational intelligence, but one that is capable of: 

  • learning from every interaction,
  • understanding both the cognitive and emotive pathway of human communication,
  • sensing intentions, and
  • distinguishing between literal and non-literal statements.

In summary: marketers and advertisers need emotion AI.

Possible application fields of emotion AI

Besides its use in advertising research, there are several diverse ways brands can benefit from developments in emotion AI. For instance:

  • Smart chatbots can identify different customer types, their behavior and motives, and use them to strengthen their customer relationship in the long run – e.g. by offering personalized product recommendations or providing individual responses to questions. 
  • Smart CCTV cameras allow retail outlets to record customer reactions to various products, prices etc. in real-time, allowing them to improve their range and pricing.
  • Cameras within computers, smartphones or smart TVs enable brands to leverage emotion AI to test reactions to particular content and change their online activity accordingly.

Emotion AI requires transparency

There is a growing level of alertness towards data protection and online privacy. For emotion AI to function properly and not have adverse effects it is vital for companies to clearly communicate their digital ethics and offer transparency.

  • What data will be collected for what purpose?
  • Who will have access to this data?
  • Where and how long will the data be stored?

For leaders that wish to take the next step towards a digital future with their brand, it is vital to have these questions in mind, demonstrate corporate digital responsibility and actively engage in dialogues with your customers. This will be key and the foundation of building trust with your users 

Emotion AI – embarking on the path to an emotional future

Currently, in terms of reading and understanding emotions, humans are very much ahead of machines. However, emotion AI has already highlighted the areas that would benefit from personalizing the user experience and therefore, strengthening the customer relationship. Predictably, with further scientific progress, the emotional intelligence capabilities of machines will become more accurate.

The path for emotion AI has already been set, now we simply have to observe how quickly machines begin to understand emotions and become a key factor in our communication and consumption behavior.