TC50: Affective Interfaces Monitors And Deciphers Facial Expressions Of Web Users

Sentiment detection is fast becoming a popular method of deciphering Tweets, news stories and other content on the web. TechCrunch50 startup Affective Interfaces, which launched at the Business Applications session today, has built emotion sensing technology that detects a web user’s facial expressions via a webcam.

Affective Interfaces’s SaaS uses a webcam to monitor facial expressions such as smiles, frowns and other emotions. The software analyzes these expressions and how they related to different parts of a site. So for example, Affective Interfaces will compare the emotions of a user while they are on vs. Or the software could be aptly used to determine emotions on an e-commerce site, like, to see what emotions affect engagement and purchasing decisions. Affective Interfaces gathers customer content through video ads, media etc., then collect and process the data for clients and create a report that deciphers the emotions of users.

The technology seems similar to having an online focus group test out a product, except the software actually breaks down the emotional data. Affective Interfaces provides a full report and charts with each session that drills down analytics from product engagement. The startup says it is releasing APIs for people to channel their data into the software, with ideal uses of the software for online media metrics, entertainment, webpage development, gaming sites and e-commerce.

Expert Panel Q&A (paraphrased)

The experts: Satish Dharmaraj, Lior Zorea, Bradley Horowitz, Tim O’Reilly, Kevin Rose

SD: I didn’t get it. Felt more like a PhD thesis than a business.

TO: I had the opposite reaction. I think there a couple of businesses here.

KR: I thought it was awesome. For focus groups and market research, this is going to be huge.

A: We see potential for an iPod detector etc. We see a lot of potential for partereing for market research, ads. etc.

Jason: You do that through mechanical turk?

A: yes, but you can also see your sessions.

BH: We’ll soon be able to record every moment of our life. If you could measure heart rate, that would be easier. Have you thought about other modalities?

A: We are thinking about other biometrics and modes. But the nice thing about AI is that it only requires a web cam.

Michael Arrington: The videos are really compelling.

A: We’ll be able to do statistical data sets on particular segments of the market. We can correlate frame by frame what the person is feeling and how strongly.


Outside Coverage:
TC50: Affective Interfaces detects whether your ad makes people happy VentureBeat.
TechCrunch50: Business Apps on Parade (and Emotion Sensing!) AppScout.
Affective Interfaces’ Webcam Software Reads Emotions Gizmodo.