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Emotion detection’s market strength grows along with qualms

Emotion detection’s market strength grows along with qualms

It is always creepy in a sci-fi movie when a piece of technology tries to read emotions and doubly so when it succeeds.

And yet, emotion detection and recognition are growing according to a market report being pushed by ResearchAndMarkets. They are, in fact, growing at a healthy rate.

Of course, that means that along with new patents and products come concerns about accuracy and privacy. Even before looking into how the technology can overcome gender and racial biases, emotion detection has trouble operating accurately and reliably under ideal laboratory conditions.

At the same time, it is difficult to think about emotion detections and not think about government and commercial cameras recording people in public trying to, essentially, read their minds.

The segment is growing regardless, according to the new market report, which estimates the market presence of emotion detection and recognition components, technology, buyers, global regions and other factors.

Collectively, the product segments are projected to have grown from $19.5 billion globally last year to $37.1 billion by 2026, an 11.3 percent compound annual growth rate.

(Emotion detection using biometric facial recognition has grown to a $20 billion industry, but facial movements and expressions are not reliable indications of how someone is feeling, according to research conducted by scientists brought together by the Association for Psychological Science and reported by The Washington Post.)

That growth is being fueled buyers’ demand “accretion” of emotion detection systems that are based on speech analysis, according to the report. Automotive industry demand is growing, too, as is the appetite for socially intelligent artificial agents, according to the report.

Maturing technologies, including machine learning, AI, IoT and deep learning, have created an increasingly dependable infrastructure for the new biometrics arena.

Innovation is becoming more sophisticated.

Earlier this month, the maker of a mobile video platform capable of real-time emotion analysis was awarded a U.S. patent for an advertising-related development.

Truthify‘s patented innovation is called Emotion-Optimized Journeys. The algorithm is designed to decipher a would-be buyer’s emotional reaction to a video ad, for example, and customize what happens next. Delight and indifference would send someone down a digital path that best addresses his or her mood.

Amazon and Spotify have their own mind-reading patents. A recent piece in The New York Times pointed out that Spotify has protected a way to use voices to guess what customers want to hear as well as their ages and genders.

One of Amazon’s 2018 patents, highlighted in a recent episode of Marketplace, suggests that someone might sneeze or cough while addressing Alexa, and the assistant could suggest cold remedies before carrying out whatever command it was given.

In an interesting development, Gazepoint Research has introduced a new product adding eye-tracking to its emotion-biometrics product, which can gather biometrics including galvanic skin response and heart rate.

It is interesting because in many emotion detection products, eye movement is masked. To date, developers of these systems have dismissed eye movement as noise obscuring useful signals.

Noise also describes how skeptics and privacy advocates describe the technology itself.

Joseph Turow, author of ‘The Voice Catchers,’ says in a Marketplace radio interview that multiple industries — health care, for instance — could make productive use of emotion detection.

But “this stuff should be banned from marketing,” said Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

It is intrusive in a very personal way, a way that benefits marketers more than consumers.

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