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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Smartphones Might Soon Develop Emotional Intelligence

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unhappy face on Blackberry smartphone

Credit: CIO

University of Rochester researchers say they have developed software that gauges human feelings through speech, with significantly greater accuracy than conventional approaches. "We actually used recordings of actors reading out the date of the month — it really doesn't matter what they say, it's how they're saying it that we're interested in," says Rochester professor Wendi Heinzelman.

The program analyzes 12 features of speech, such as pitch and volume, to identify one of six emotions from a sound recording. During testing, the system achieved 81 percent accuracy. "The research is still in its early days, but it is easy to envision a more complex app that could use this technology for everything from adjusting the colors displayed on your mobile to playing music fitting to how you're feeling after recording your voice," Heinzelman says.

The researchers established 12 features in speech that were measured in each recording at short intervals. They then categorized each of the recordings and used them to teach the program what various emotions sound like. "We want to be confident that when the computer thinks the recorded speech reflects a particular emotion, it is very likely it is indeed portraying this emotion," Heinzelman says.

From University of Rochester
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