As we all know, artificial intelligence is changing the world as we know it. With AI comes affective computing, a closely related concept. Affective computing refers to computing that is related to emotions. Emotions are very important in making decisions, and they influence a wide array of cognitive functions such as thinking, perception, memory, learning, etc. Affective computing helps in communicating or processing emotional states with others, or with a computer.
With a growing focus on emotion recognition software, there are research developments in a wide range of academic fields, including neurology, psychology, software development, ethics, sociology, etc. Many tools can already recognize human emotions, and these are being used to help people with disabilities such as autism. However, emotion recognition does not stop there. It is expected to convulse computing and take it by storm.
Affective computing currently focuses on facial expression databases, emotion classification, facial action coding system and changes in the skin as well. For example, it is well known that human beings’ skin becomes hot when certain emotions are experienced. This will be picked up by sensors on wearable technology, only to be processed by an app or a computer. There are a number of applications for affective computing.
Where is affective computing applied?
Affective computing is expected to change the way e-learning takes place. Whenever a learner is bored or frustrated, the program makes changes to the style of presentation or the content. It just needs not be about boredom. As a wide array of emotions can be recognized, e-learning programs can be made customized for students.
Psychological services can make use of affective computing, especially when counseling is offered online. Another important area of application is robotics. While affective computing recognizes emotions, it goes way beyond that. Artificial intelligence can one day be taught to experience emotions, leading to sentience among robots. Already, companion devices such as digital pets make use of these emotions.
A few other applications include marketing and sales, where executives can drop campaigns or sales pitches when they understand that the person on the other side of the computer or phone is not receptive to the message. The converse holds true too. It is one day possible for computers to feel emotions too, and that day may not be very far away.
What the future holds?
Affective computing holds a lot of promise for the future. With emotion recognition research developing at a rapid rate, computers will be able to recognize, process and even ‘have’ emotions themselves one day. It remains to be seen where affective computing will be applied. Most likely, it will change the way we conduct e-learning programs, psychological therapy, marketing and sales, robotics and a few other areas of technology. Certainly, there shall be more research and news coming from this area. For those of us in technology and marketing, emotion recognition and affective computing hold a lot of promise. This is one area to watch and observe, for things are going to change rather quickly.