Social coach on your wrist: MIT-developed wearable predicts the wearer's mood

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Institute of Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) have developed a wearable they say can predict the mood of its wearer by analyzing speech patterns and physiological signs. The system may someday serve as a social coach for people with anxiety or Asperger’s syndrome.

“Imagine if, at the end of a conversation, you could rewind it and see the moments when the people around you felt the most anxious,” Tuka Alhanai, a CSAIL graduate student who worked on the project, said in a statement. “Our work is a step in this direction, suggesting that we may not be that far away from a world where people can have an AI social coach right in their pocket.”

Using two AI algorithms and a Samsung Simband, the system measures vitals like heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow, and skin temperature, while recording audio data related to the wearer’s pitch, tone, and vocabulary. It then attempts to identify the speaker’s mood, from positive to neutral to negative, in five-second increments.

“As far as we know, this is the first experiment that collects both physical data and speech data in a passive but robust way, even while subjects are having natural, unstructured interactions,” Mohammad Ghassemi, a CSAIL doctoral student who worked on the project, said in a statement. “Our results show that it’s possible to classify the emotional tone of conversations in real time.”

The system is imperfect and not yet ready for real-world applications, but it’s better than current methods. Results showed it could identify moods with an accuracy of about 18 percent above chance and 7.5 percent better than existing technologies. Alhanai and Ghassemi will present their findings at Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) conference in San Francisco next week.

Emerging Tech

Here’s how Facebook taught its Portal A.I. to think like a Hollywood filmmaker

When Facebook introduced its Portal screen-enhanced smart speakers, it wanted to find a way to make video chat as intimate as sitting down for a conversation with a friend. Here's how it did it.
Emerging Tech

Statistician raises red flag about reliability of machine learning techniques

Machine learning is everywhere in science and technology. But how reliable are these techniques really? A statistician argues that questions of accuracy and reproducibility of machine learning have not been fully addressed.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. Here's how the impressive A.I. works.
Emerging Tech

Photosynthesizing artificial leaf may be the air-cleaning tool we’ve dreamed of

Engineers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have invented an artificial leaf which could both clean up our air and provide a cost-effective type of fuel. Here's how it works.
Wearables

The Google Pixel Watch could finally launch sometime this year

From its Pixel smartphones to Google Home, the Google brand is quickly becoming synonymous with high-quality consumer hardware. Eventually, according to rumors, Google may branch out a little further by creating its first smartwatch.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for February 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Wearables

To be blunt, the Vuzix Blade smartglasses just don’t cut it

We tried out the Vuzix Blade to find out if it’s worth shelling out $1,000 for smartglasses. Are these augmented reality, Android-powered glasses really ready for primetime or just an expensive gimmick that no one really needs?
Wearables

Sony’s weird Wena isn’t a smartwatch, it’s a smart watch strap

Sony's Wena smart watch straps have been around since 2015; but the company has now decided to launch them outside of Japan, starting with the U.K.. The straps convert traditional watch straps into smart watches.
Mobile

Smartwatch sales soared in 2018, with Apple leading the charge

The NPD Group, a market research organization, has reported smartwatch sales soared in 2018. Apple is leading the charge, but it's clear there's still room in the market for competitors, as Samsung and Fitbit also did well.
Mobile

North Focals smartglasses discount cuts the price by a massive $400

Canadian startup North is hoping smartglasses will be the next big wearable. After announcing its new Focals smartglasses in late 2018, the company opened product showrooms in Brooklyn and Toronto and has made its first shipment.
Wearables

Galaxy Watch Active isn't official yet, but you can see it in Samsung's own app

Samsung may be about to resurrect its Sport line of smartwatches under a new name: The Galaxy Watch Sport Active. Leaks and rumors are building our picture of the device at the moment.
Wearables

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…
Mobile

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.
Deals

Amazon slashes prices on Fitbit Versa smartwatches for Presidents’ Day

Amazon is offering a solid $30 discount on this great fitness tracking smartwatch right now. So if you're looking for a wearable that can help you track steps, sleep, and activity, now is a great time to pick one up for less.