Smartphones Might Soon Develop Emotional Intelligence

If you think having your phone identify the nearest bus stop is cool, wait until it identifies your mood.

New research by a team of engineers at the University of Rochester may soon make that possible. At the IEEE Workshop on Spoken Language Technology on Dec. 5 in Miami, Florida, the researchers will describe a new computer program that gauges human feelings through speech, with substantially greater accuracy than existing approaches.

Surprisingly, the program doesn't look at the meaning of the words. "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," said Wendi Heinzelman, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Heinzelman explained that the program analyzes 12 features of speech, such as pitch and volume, to identify one of six emotions from a sound recording. And it achieves 81 percent accuracy – a significant improvement on earlier studies that achieved only about 55 percent accuracy.

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Source: University of Rochester

Researchers:

Na Yang, University of Rochester 
Wendi Heinzelman, University of Rochester 
Melissa Sturge-Apple, University of Rochester 
Patrick Davies, University of Rochester
JoHannah Kohl, University of Rochester
Rajani Muraleedharan, Rowan University
Ilker Demirkol, Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Spain