Technology is leaping forward on a daily basis. The applications for such technology are numerous and new avenues of innovation are always being found. One such application is emotion analytics. At the forefront of this niche we find Affectiva. Though not truly a startup in the traditional sense, having launched over five years ago, their software, Affdex, has caused quite a stir in the tech world.
Affdex is all about analyzing facial expressions to gauge a user’s emotional response to certain stimuli. For now, the major highlight has been for advertising and marketing. Think of it like cookies and ad software through social media. You like certain pages or products and the ad software tailors your exposure to other pages and products along a similar line. Well, what if your smartphone could do the same thing by using the onboard camera?
Instead of having to manually confirm your preferences, Affdex will register your facial expressions to whatever you are viewing at the time and log this emotional response. This data could be used by advertisers and marketing agencies to further improve your exposure to their product. As Affectiva puts it, “Affdex delivers real-time insight into unspoken, spontaneous reactions to advertisements, concepts, and other media content. Using advanced facial analysis, Affdex scientifically measures emotional responses unobtrusively, cost effectively, and at scale. No special equipment or extra processing required.”
The startup officially launched in April of 2009 as a spin-off of the MIT Media Lab. The Affdex software is out there in full swing, and is currently being utilized by more than 1400 brands. To date, the company has mustered over $19.725 million (USD) in total capital. Due to the heavy scientific nature of the program, the National Science Foundation is itself a major financial contributor, in addition to major investment firms such as WPP and Horizons Ventures.
It’ll be interesting to see what other applications will be found for the Affdex program itself. The first thing that came to mind was definitely marketing. Which makes perfect sense, as an industry that spends millions on, and makes billions from, timed and precise emotional response. Affdex makes yet another tool in the arsenal of those agencies in advertising and marketing.
But what about other industries? The benefits of the data gleaned by Affdex are yet to be fully realized, and are just as numerous as the applications to which it can be applied. There are sure to be more major breakthroughs on the horizon.