We live in an era where our technologies are increasingly able to read, interpret, and predict our emotions. While this insight has enormous potential to enrich our lives, the idea that our emotions can be tracked and potentially manipulated makes many people uneasy (see Facebook’s emotion manipulation scandal).

However, the reality of the emotional tracking field is that an incredible number of researchers are using technology across industries to overturn outdated beliefs about emotions. The classic view of emotions is an oversimplified model where emotions are innate, universal, and have dedicated centers in our brains that can be located (think Inside Out). This view contributes to dubious article titles announcing – usually in all caps – that we have found the “road rage center” in the brain, the exact identity of “fear neurons,” or the location of the “buy button.”

Our more modern understanding reveals that emotions are not universal, are primarily not innate, and do not have dedicated centers in the brain. Instead, each instance of an emotion is a unique construction created by multiple networks throughout the brain. These networks pull on relevant concepts that have been formed by past experiences to construct the current emotional experience. Given this individuality and complexity, technology allows us to better predict what individuals are feeling.

What that means for products, experiences, and user interfaces is that someday, emotion-based technology will be able to detect each individual user’s unique emotional experience and react in turn with equivalent personalization.

Emotion tracking is already being used…

To get your pulse racing….

emotion tracking in nevermind

A game called Nevermind uses facial expression analysis to track facial expressions, making the game more stressful in response to the player’s fear levels. If that doesn’t break your sweat, try exergaming your emotions.

To set the mood….

happy music

Tools are being developed so that music can can be curated to your exact emotional experience. No more breakup playlists needed.

To prevent flops…

supermarket products

Recently launched products have high failure rates when relying on what people say they’d buy. However, tracking implicit preferences reveals which products they truly love.

To hit honor roll…

Even virtual teachers can call you out for being bored in the e-classroom or shoot you “the look” when you give the wrong answer.

To boost sales…

Now there’s hope sales associates can identify whether you actually need help before invading your space to ask “can I help you with anything?

For all of the feels…

Google Glasses outfitted with emotion recognition capabilities are helping children with autism (a mental disorder that often presents with a reduced ability to correctly identify emotions) learn to determine the emotions of those around them.

measuring emotion in children with autism
Measuring emotions has the potential to change our lives and the way we communicate. Whether that’s a doctor being able to feel a patient’s depressionor charity donors experiencing the severity of someone’s need. And it’s coming to an iPhone near you….

If you’re interested in learning more, please download our comprehensive guide below or contact us to find out how iMotions can help with your facial expression analysis questions.

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