On Monday, a startup called Beyond Verbal is launching a fun new Web app that can decode your emotions just by listening to your voice.
The company gave Business Insider an exclusive first look at the app.
To try it yourself, you’ll need a computer or tablet with a microphone (most have one). Simply fire up your Web browser, head to the Beyond Verbal website and click on the Moodies app. You’ll have to grant permission for the app to access your microphone.
Talk about your thoughts for 20 seconds and Moodies will reveal how you really feel.
It doesn’t analyse the meaning of the words, doesn’t even listen to them. It listens to the intonations and non-verbal clues behind the words.
That’s why it works with almost any language (26 of them so far). Human emotion is universal.
The algorithm was developed from 18 years of research from scientists and psychologists spearheaded by founder, Yoram Levanon. He’s a senior fellow at Wharton University with degrees in physics, maths and statistics. The team has four patents on the tech.
Moodies is just a game at this point, a little like reading Tarot cards, only it predicts your mood, not your future.
But it has a serious side. By using it, you’ll contribute to their research and improve its emotion-reading ability. The algorithm is already the result of a lot of research: 60,000 test subjects and 26 languages, Beyond Verbal’s VP of marketing, Dan Emodi, told us.
The company is licensing the app to software developers and device makers, with the first third-party app coming out in a few weeks. It’s a self-improvement app.
And the company is working with voice-controlled gadgets, too. Eventually they envision things like your iPhone automatically picking mood-matching music for you; your car knowing the difference a joking, “Oh help me, Lord” and a real call for help.
“Imagine if Siri really understands our emotions,” Emodi told me. “Emotional analytics can impact any vertical [industry] you can think of.”
I had fun trying the app. At first, I played the first 20 seconds of President Obama’s second debate with Gov. Romney. He was talking about Romney’s proposed tax plan. You can listen to the first 20 seconds for yourself:
And the Moodie app said this was how the President was feeling.
It gives you a chance to agree or disagree with the findings. I thought it was spot on.
Then, I played it the first 20 seconds of a bit from Colbert about the IRS Tea Party tax scandal:
And Moodies replied:
Business Insider/Julie BortIt didn’t pick up the irony in Colbert’s voice, but then real people have trouble with that, too.
Then I asked it some personal questions. I asked if I should cut my hair radically short and talked about that for 20 seconds. This is how I apparently really feel about that:
Business Insider/Julie BortI’m not sure if that means I really want to cut my hair or not.
I then asked it about a lot of stuff in my life (which I’ll decline to share) and found it to accurate more times than not.
So, if you want to experience an emotionally sensitive computer, check out Moodies.
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