Empathy is one of the characteristics of the human being. What happens when machines become able to know how you are feeling?
This reality is closer than ever after an AI company specializing in eye tracking acquired an emotion detection software company. Smart Eye and Affectiva have announced that they have reached an agreement whereby Smart Eye will buy Affectiva for $ 73.5 million.
This acquisition aims to secure a dominant position in the automotive industry, which early adopted emotion-sensing AI to enhance the driving experience. Both companies work with automotive OEMs (Smart Eye has contracts with 12 of the 20 largest global OEMs). But space is increasingly competitive, as Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS) become standard on high-end models and increasingly find their way into mid-range offerings.
“By observing the evolution of the DMS category towards interior detection systems, which monitor the entire cabin, we quickly recognized Affectiva as a major player to follow,” said Martin Krantz, founder and CEO of Smart Eye. “Affectiva’s pioneering work in artificial intelligence of emotions has served as a platform to bring this technology to market on a large scale. Ultimately, it’s about saving lives and bridging the gap between humans and machines. I am convinced that this is a defining moment for road safety thanks to the announcement we made today. “
Breathtaking progress every day
Affectiva is from the MIT Media Lab. It was established in 2009 with the goal of advancing machine learning and computer vision to gain a deep understanding of how people feel, with data useful for automakers.
But if the automotive sector is where the money is at the moment to develop this technology, chances are it will spread quickly to adjacent sectors. Affectiva already has a booming media analytics business and is used by 70% of the world’s largest advertisers, according to a company spokesperson. Smart Eye is also used in human factors research to better understand human behavior. It is no exaggeration to imagine that this technology will play a crucial role in the rise of social robots in the near future.
“We are delighted with the merger with Smart Eye, which is the next step in Affectiva’s journey. This is a unique and exciting opportunity for us to join with Smart Eye to bring advanced AI to market with more comprehensive capabilities than any of us could provide on our own, ”says Dr Rana el Kaliouby, co-founder and CEO of Affectiva. “Not only are our technologies very complementary, but so are our values, our people, our culture and, perhaps above all, our vision for the future. We share the belief that the AI we build today will one day become ubiquitous. It will be integrated into the fabric of the technologies we use every day and will forever change the way we interact with technology and others in a digital world. “
Even if you keep your emotions in control, AI technology may soon be reading your eyes.