To infinity and Beyond Verbal: The Web app revolutionizing the science of voice analysis

beyond verbal imageThe Web and social applications have given us many, many ways to express ourselves. We can update statuses, share photos, stream music; and it’s all shareable and can be analyzed to help us understand the motivations behind the things we upload and connect with. So what if our emotions – the ones we keep inside instead of broadcast – could be used this same way?

Beyond Verbal is trying to do just that by analyzing people’s moods, attitudes, and emotional characteristics – also known as personalities – in real time, using raw vocal intonations. “To understand these three things is to understand the dimension of emotions in human communications,” says Dan Emodi, Beyond Verbal’s VP for Marketing and Strategic Accounts. “Bundled into software, our technology allows devices and applications to understand not just what we type, click, say, or touch, but what we mean and how we feel.”

The science of emotions

Beyond Verbal’s software is backed up by 18 years of research spearheaded by chief scientist and physicist Dr. Yoram Levanon and neuro-psychologist Dr. Lan Lossos. According to Emodi, the idea for Beyond Verbal came when Levanon began showing interest in how babies – who do not understand a single word – are able to figure out exactly what their caretakers feel toward them, which led him to look into the physical modulations of air pressures that carry the sounds in our surroundings to look for the answer. Together with Lossos, they studied over 60,000 test subjects in at least 26 languages, and their success in extracting, decoding, and measuring human moods, attitudes, and personalities gave birth to what they are calling Emotions Analytics.

To demonstrate the potential of this technology, Beyond Verbal has created Moodies, the world’s first and publicly available mood recognition app for the Web. Anyone with a microphone built into their computer can record a 20-second audio clip of their own voice, and the app analyzes the speech for mood, attitude, and personality markers. Results are categorized into primary and secondary moods, the latter usually pertaining to subliminal results. Results can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, or email.

Emodi went on to demonstrate the capability of Beyond Verbal’s software by analyzing The Guardian’s recent interview of Edward Snowden.

His speech pattern may seem pedantic to the untrained ear – he is, after all, an analyst – but the Beyond Verbal software was able to pick up on Snowden’s intense passion in his beliefs. For someone who is considered persona non grata by the U.S. government for his revelation of classified National Security Agency documents, he showed a lot of control and restraint as well as confidence and sense of pride.

On the other hand, when asked about his knowledge of PRISM, President Barack Obama’s response went from self-confident to one that exuded anger, rejection, and intolerance.

For our own hands-on purposes, here are a couple of YouTube videos of a couple of celebrity apologies we ran through the Moodies app with their corresponding results, using only the first 20 seconds. The results are impressive, and seem like accurate assessments of the speakers’ attitudes. According to Emodi, Moodies users have reported results of at least 80 percent accuracy, which is pretty good considering the many factors that can affect the cleanliness of a voice recording, such as background noise, more than one person speaking at the same time, and microphone quality and volume.

Chris Brown’s apology for abusing Rihanna

beyond verbal - chris brown apology

Paula Deen’s tearful apology for racial slurs:

 beyond verbal - paula deen apology

 Reese Witherspoon’s apology for disorderly conduct:

beyond verbal - reese witherspoon apology

Kanye West’s apology for interrupting Taylor Swift’s MTV VMAs acceptance speech:

 beyond verbal - kanye west apology

Hugh Grant’s apology for canoodling with a prostitute:

beyond verbal - hugh grant

The future of emotions analytics

Even from only a handful of examples, it’s obvious just how useful this type of technology can be. According to Emodi, the response has been so overwhelming since the launch a few months ago that it’s decided to make the technology available through an over-the-cloud API to third-party app developers and companies in the fields of consumer applications, mobile devices, and appliances through partnerships instead of just coming up with a solution in-house. “Our goal is to work with our partners to introduce Emotions Analytics capabilities in practically any voice-powered device, system, or application out there, to introduce emotional understanding into every aspect of our lives, and to allow us to gain a deeper hold of context and meaning and achieve more in practically everything we do,” says Emodi.

“We’ve developed a platform that rests on the cutting edge of understanding the underlying emotions that people project.”

One example Emodi came up with is a safety app designed to lower the speed of a moving vehicle you are driving that detects distraction levels based on your speech quality. From there, the ideas just start flowing – emotions analytics will greatly affect how people experience media, business, recreation, relationships, and technology in general. You can have an app for employers to use to analyze the personality of job applicants. An app that can help you understand your significant other’s reactions. An app casting agents can use to choose an actor that is most believable for a particular role. An app that suggests music playlists, depending on your mood. The possibilities are endless.

What’s next for Beyond Verbal

“Beyond Verbal hopes to create a new cloud-based economy that’s immediately available,” Emodi shares. He also confirms there are a lot of companies that have formally expressed intent to forge partnerships with Beyond Verbal, but he says he’d like to protect their privacy and defer to their personal launch schedules. What he did share is that the company has just secured an additional $1 million in its second seed round of funding, led by Winnovation, the start-up investment fund of industrialist Sami Sagol. Additionally, Winnovation’s co-founder and CEO Barak Ben-Eliezer is joining Beyond Verbal’s Board of Directors.

emotions analysis“The team at Beyond Verbal has developed a platform that rests on the cutting edge of understanding the underlying emotions that people project,” says Ben-Eliezar. “We couldn’t be more excited to invest in what we feel is a revolutionary brain science that is sure to impact numerous verticals all around the world, and are confident that the additional capital towards Beyond Verbal’s efforts will yield impressive forthcoming results.”

According to Beyond Verbal’s announcement, the recent funding will be used for further research and development of the company’s emotional analytics and artificial intelligence, as well as leveraging the growing interest surrounding the licensing of the platform’s cloud-based API to expand the technology’s capabilities, applications, and market reach. 

“Following the flood of positive responses surrounding the launch of Beyond Verbal, we are looking to push the limits of the platform and further our growth in ways previously unforeseen,” says Yuval Mor, CEO of Beyond Verbal. “By continuing to innovate and unlock the potential of voice enabled emotional interpretation, we feel we can open up a new dimension of emotional understanding that will impact how people communicate with machines, as well as with each other.”

Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.
Buying Guides

Block the outside world, tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones -- there's a model for every user and every budget.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

Japanese billionaire splashes the cash to break retweet record

Japanese billionaire entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa has proved again he has a knack for self-publicity after launching a cash-prize contest to break the retweet record. Maezawa is the same man who is hoping to go to the moon with SpaceX.

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.

Photoshop fail gives Aussie leader two left feet in official portrait

The Aussie prime minister doesn't have two left feet, despite an official photograph of the leader and his family suggesting otherwise. It was, of course, a Photoshop fail, and the embarrassing snafu was soon trending on Twitter.
Social Media

Instagram now lets you post to multiple accounts in one tap

Instagram for iPhone now lets you post to multiple accounts at the same time. It's not the regram feature that many users have been asking for, but it could prove useful for some users who manage more than one profile.
Social Media

No yolk! A photo of an egg has become the most-liked post on Instagram

Until this weekend, the most-liked post on Instagram was of Kylie Jenner's baby daughter, which has around 18 million likes. It's now been knocked off the top spot not by a stunning sunset or even a cute cat, but by an egg.
Social Media

Invite your friends — Facebook Events can now be shared to Stories

Facebook is testing a way to make plans with friends to attend an event -- through Stories. By sharing an event in Facebook Stories, users can message other friends interested in the event to make plans to attend together.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.