Smartphones are, well, pretty smart. From detecting our location to recognizing verbal commands, one day we may fear that our phones have surpassed us in intelligence. The latest step in this futuristic phone-bot direction is Israeli company Beyond Verbal’s application Moodies, a platform that analyzes and recognizes human emotions based on vocal modulations. Dan Emodi, the company’s Vice President of Marketing sat down with NoCamels and explained the company’s emotive technology and how he believes it can change the way humans interact with their mobile machines.
Using an algorithm developed over 19 years from extensive scientific and psychological research on over 70,000 test subjects, Israeli founder Yoram Levanon launched Moodies in May 2013 as the first-ever emotion-analytics application designed to bring emotion-sensing technology to users on the go.
‘How are you feeling today,’ – smartphone style
The Moodies app works by determining the three dimensions of emotions in communication: mood, attitude, and emotional decision-making characteristics—in other words, the user’s personality. When the user speaks into their mobile device, the sound is captured and pre-processed before it is sent to the Internet, to a cloud database. Then, Beyond Verbal’s software filters the voice content, analyzing things like pitch and repetition for the emotional undertone.
While Moodies’ algorithm is unable to understand the meaning of words, what initially appears to be a downside actually allows speakers of over 26 languages to emotionally translate their speech with the touch of button. “Emotions are universal,” Emodi explained to NoCamels. “Our goal is to enable every machine or application powered by human voice to understand our emotions and respond accordingly.”
The Moodies app refreshes with new emotional analysis results every 15-20 seconds and lets the user select “agree” or “disagree” to express their opinion on the accuracy of the emotive analytics. Over time, the algorithm uses this feedback to self-correct, eventually boasting a reported accuracy of about 80 percent, better than some psychologists. In addition, the app features a running screen of results, allowing users to share their mood analysis via email and social networks, if they are up for that kind of group sharing, that is.
A lot of industries are about to get emotional over Moodies
Though the app has been around for a little over a year, it is already used in more than 154 countries with tens of thousands of downloads on iOS and Android, and investors are taking note. Moodies recently raised $3.3 million in funding from Winnovation, SingulariTeam and an unnamed Chinese financial services firm.
According to Emodi, the possible applications of this patented technology are endless: aiding in self-tutoring and educational apps, automotive safety, coaching, call centers, advertising, media content selection, and more, emotional-comprehending machines can revolutionize the human-machine relationship.
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In the same vein, Emodi noted how the customer-service sector could particularly benefit from Beyond Verbal’s technology, “Call centers, for example, could understand if the customer on the phone is frustrated or angry. On the flip side, it could also alert the agent if he is getting carried away and losing that service-perfect intonation.”
With companies struggling to keep their customer service up-to-par, Moodies could be a welcomed aid in improving distanced verbal interaction. Emodi revealed that Beyond Verbal recently landed exciting pilots with several big companies, among them a large call center and an airline, unspecified due to confidentiality agreements. He did hint, however, that it could be useful to monitor the emotions of pilots in the cockpit during flight, though he refrained from elaborating further.
This is just one of several exciting new projects Beyond Verbal is looking forward to. This past summer, the company paired with one of the world’s largest market research firms, Lieberman Research Worldwide to find out how the platform could be used as an invaluable marketing tool.
“We’re excited to showcase to some of the world’s largest brands how important and valuable emotion analytics can be when evaluating consumers’ true feelings,” said Yuval Mor, the CEO of Beyond Verbal.
With five patents, and a recent Gardner Award for “Best Vendor Improving the Human-Machine Interface,” Beyond Verbal certainly tastes the fruits of its 19 years of labor. But the company is far from resting on its laurels. According to Emodi, we should remain on the lookout for announcements regarding exciting industry-geared developments, like the company’s “wellness API,” a platform allowing those in the health and fitness industries to take advantage of emotional analytics.
When it comes down to it, we feel pretty good about Moodies.