Science & Tech
Smartphone program can read human emotions: Researchers

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In the not-too-distant future, your smartphone will be able to read your emotions and act accordingly, new research suggests.

Researchers from the University of Rochester have unveiled a new program that can use human voice cues to identify how a person is feeling — and they say it's more accurate than anything else like it out there.

The program scans human speech for emotional cues, while ignoring the actual 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.

By analyzing 12 features of speech, including pitch and volume, it can identify six emotions from a sound recording with an 81% accuracy rate, Heinzelman said.

Previous research in this field hasn't been able to produce a program that tops 51% accuracy.

The researchers have turned the program into a smartphone app. All it does right now is display an emoticon to show you how you feel, which you probably already know. But it could have wide-range applications as the technology progresses, such as adjusting your phone's settings based on your needs.

"The research is still in its early days," Heinzelman said. "But it is easy to envision a more complex app that could use this technology for everything from adjusting the colours displayed on your mobile to playing music fitting to how you're feeling after recording your voice."

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