Emotional Artificial Intelligence… Requires Emotional Intelligence

Three key perspectives on Emotional AI and why you should be aware of them

What if your phone could send you a notification when you were becoming anxious, before you’d even realized it? 

Or what if you could scan your toddler’s face and understand that they were nervous? 

Emotional AI is a field that questions what it means to have feelings, what it means to emote, and in essence, what it means to be human. 

In today’s digital world we are already communicating through screens—whether Zoom calls, Snapchat, or text messages. It’s common for mistakes to happen, for tone to be lost and for context to be missing. And while communication issues can arise in person as well as digitally, emotional AI is the field that allows us to ask: what if it could all be optimised? 

What is Emotional Artificial Intelligence?

Sometimes just called Emotion AI, or affective computing, Emotional AI is a subset of AI, the goal of which is to measure, understand, simulate, and react to human emotions.

Machines programmed to have this kind of ‘emotional intelligence’ are trained to learn from patterns in cognition as well as emotion. The goal is for the machine having the ability to “detect, interpret, and respond appropriately to both verbal and nonverbal signals”. To provide a machine with accurate information, images, videos, and audio recordings are used as input, along with recognition systems. As more data is input, the machines ‘learn’ to both recognize and interpret subtleties in facial expression and voice intonation. 

In some projects, researchers are also working with parameters such as skin temperature and heart rate, which provide additional data points for identifying emotional response. 

At the moment, humans still absolutely have the upper hand when it comes to detecting and identifying emotions—but machines are improving quickly. Modern technology has the advantage of being able to process vast amounts of data, with a lot of detail, very quickly. For example, a computer might be able to identify micro expressions in millions of photographs, or listen to thousands of recordings of the human voice with different inflections. 


A change in perspective.

For humans, the drive to understand emotion is often part of a daily experience, and studies have shown that socialization and communication are crucial parts of child development. But with Emotional AI, the perspective on how and why we value emotions might change. Researchers have presented solutions and ideas for how Emotional AI might fit into our society—but some of them may have more repercussions than we realize. Here are three uses and perspectives to consider: 

  1. Marketing – Digital marketers and decision makers will know already that emotions play a huge role in the customer journey. From a sales and advertising perspective, understanding how a user might be feeling is the juiciest information out there. The ability to distinguish a frustration, desire, or pain point means marketers can build sales funnels that soothe frustration, satisfy desires, and relieve pain points with their products and services. Emotional AI has the potential to transform the e-commerce space dramatically by identifying micro expressions by using the footage captured by a customer’s smartphone or webcam, and correlating that data with the action the customer takes (like buying the product or sharing a link). And if you’re wondering when this technology is going to be around—look no further. It’s been on the market for the last decade. 
  2. Assistive Services – A broad category of projects and research, Assistive Services refers to products that can improve a human experience. For Emotional AI, this might mean training exercises for people with neurodivergencies that make it easier for them to identify emotion, or express it themselves. Other technologies can help with healthcare—for example, identifying those who need mental health assistance.

    Technologies in this category are also being used in the automotive industry, where interactions based on driver emotions and reactions could increase road safety. By measuring aspects of emotion like blood pressure, voice volume, and microexpressions, smart cars could be built to have reactive controls. Reminding drivers to relax or re-focus could help decrease road rage, keep distracted drivers alert, or remind sleepy drivers to take a break.

  3.  Ethics – while there are no definitive answers, everyone has at one time questioned what is ethical about AI, and what makes us uncomfortable. As the industry grows, and Emotional AI takes its place in popular technology, philosophers and psychologists are asking questions about privacy, ethical use, and potential impacts. CCTV cameras enable retail stores to record customer reactions to products, prices, etc. in real time and thereby improve their range and pricing, and take the information to their advertising campaigns as well. Being recorded without knowledge or permission is one conversation, but emotional AI also requires us to think about whether or not we are comfortable with companies leveraging the information they have about us. What’s your limit? 

While Emotional AI is a constantly-expanding field, bear in mind that technology may only be as good as its programmer. To identify emotions—based on facial expressions, voice inflections, or some kind of incommunicable level of empathy, programmers need to have extremely high emotional intelligence themselves. Self-reported data is used heavily in emotional AI as well, and it’s not always as accurate as the reportees might think. 

When we approach technology from the point of view that we can help others, increase empathy, and solve problems, the world opens up to us. Emotional AI is a rich realm of multidisciplinary research with potential for wonderful solutions. 

If you’re looking for an out-of-the-box solution, Cloutel just might have it. Ready to explore with us? 

September 26, 2022
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The Endless Possibilities of Virtual Reality

From theme parks to operating rooms, Virtual Reality is technology through which we can open our own minds to new joy, new learning, and new worlds. 

Virtual Reality (VR) is a type of simulated experience that allows users to enter digital experiences, usually by wearing a headset with a small screen in front of a user’s eyes. The digital worlds can be replicas of reality, or completely different from anything humans experience. It’s a place of endless opportunity, expanding as far as the imagination can reach. 

This day and age, VR has entered mainstream culture—primarily through entertainment avenues, particularly video games. In other industries, it’s also being used for education, business, training exercises, and other practical angles. VR, with its manifold applications, has become a multi-billion dollar industry, with projections for incredible growth. 

Generally speaking, in most VR worlds, realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual environment are generated. A person using VR is able to move their head and body and have the movement mirrored in the virtual world in real time. As mentioned, individual headsets with small screens are the most common way to encounter VR, but it’s also used in spaces where multiple larger screens can be accommodated.

Over the past three decades, VR technology and opportunities have steadily entered mainstream retail stores. Commercial tethered headsets by Oculus (Rift), HTC (Vive) and Sony (PlayStation VR) prompted application development in the 2010’s and beyond. 

Some Exciting Directions


The uses for VR in entertainment abound. VR-enhanced video games are increasing in availability and popularity by the week. VR film has been used for sporting events, fine art, music videos and—no surprises here—pornography. And roller coasters and theme parks have incorporated VR to match visual effects with other types of sensory feedback, so that customers can enjoy a spray of water at the same time they appear to be plunging into a thrilling waterfall—or plummet into a scene from Harry Potter. 

Psychology and Therapy 

In social sciences and psychology, VR presents a whole host of possibilities, particularly because it offers a physically safe place to explore mentally and socially difficult scenarios, in a hyper-controlled environment. It’s also a cost-effective tool in many situations, as exact scenarios can be replicated repeatedly, leading to better scientific parameters for studies. 

VR can be used as a form of therapeutic intervention—for example, in VR Exposure Therapy (VRET).  Therapies in VRET can be used for treating disorders like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and various phobias.

Even more recently, social VR tools are also being applied to help individuals struggling to process grief trauma. Digital recreations of deceased individuals can be created and interacted with in a specific environment, a project intended to facilitate adaptive mourning. A recent South Korean documentary revealed the possible process and reactions to an experience like this—and it drew wildly mixed reactions from across the planet.


Happily, VR has taken a welcome place in healthcare, especially in cases of training and in surgery. In fact, simulated VR operations were first developed in the 1990s, for the sake of cost-effective and low-stakes practices. Operations can be ‘performed’ over and over again, and also be paused and discussed if and when trainees make mistakes. 

Business and Education 

Many digital initiatives were shifted into a reality when pandemic-fueled lockdowns swept the globe in early 2020. Especially for business and education organizations, prioritizing digital methods of working and learning became top-priority. In the case of education, VR has been used to create immersive experiences for students, providing insight into historical moments in new ways. Viewing manuscripts, rare texts and artifacts, or exploring archeological dig sites are just a sample of the possible projects. 

Some public libraries have begun keeping VR technology and headsets available to their patrons, which may be a first step into making this technology more available. 

And many companies are looking to VR to provide ways of making digital life exciting, novel, and immersive in a way that face-to-screen life hasn’t always been. 

If you’re having ideas about your own industry, or starting to think about applications of VR—you’re in the right place. Cloutel can help you bring your ideas to life. 

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The Metaverse: A universe within a universe?

A short investigation of the Metaverse, and what it can be

The term ‘metaverse’ is deceivingly simple.

The three-syllable word, first coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel ‘Snow Crash,’ has evolved to describe a futuristic realm of technology, a digital experience that is all-encompassing. 

The context, history, present, and predicted future of the metaverse is a rich field, bringing us all the way from Ancient Greek to Facebook, and from deep-dives into Sci-Fi to XR (extended reality). 

Here, we’ll take you through some of the more basic concepts of the metaverse, while also pointing out the landscape of possibilities it encompasses. 


What is the metaverse? (And where is the metaverse?)

‘Metaverse’ is a word composed of Greek parts. The word ‘meta’ itself means “among, with, after,” but in English it’s used to “describe a subject in a way that transcends its original limits, considering the subject itself as an object of reflection.” 

So, a metaverse may be understood through this lens: it’s a world contained within a world, a universe that has transcended its original limits.

In theory, it’s an endless, global, connected digital world, composed of a combination of shopping, work, social media, gaming, and many other possibilities that mirror how we currently live our physical lives. Being able to interact with people and items in a digital universe is less mind-blowing than it used to be, because many of the technologies already exist. 

In reality, the metaverse is happening all around us. There is not one shared definition, but you might begin to think of it as the internet brought to life, or at least rendered in three dimensions and intended to be experienced through augmented and virtual reality technologies. Instead of just looking at a screen, the metaverse is a virtual environment in which you can have lived experiences.

Recent Developments

In October of 2021, there was an uptick in recent interest around the metaverse because of Facebook’s rebrand to ‘Meta’ which was in direct reference to a pivot Mark Zuckerberg intended to make towards a wider scope of products and possibilities. Meta Platforms, known as Meta for short, still is a conglomeration of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, but also includes more recent tech like Quest VR headsets and the Horizon VR platform. 

Experts are split about the definitions and the likely evolution of a truly immersive ‘metaverse.’ They expect augmented- and mixed-reality enhancements will become more useful in people’s daily lives in the next two decades, and include opportunities for entertainment and commerce in many directions.

Virtual reality and augmented reality are already proving to be exciting fields for many industries, from healthcare to shopping, so it’s not a leap to conclude that XR technology and the manifold uses for it will expand rapidly, in directions we can’t currently comprehend. 

Excitement—and concern?

If you’re concerned about security within the metaverse, you’re not alone. Companies including Meta/Facebook have certainly had their share of cybersecurity—and sociopolitical—issues. 

It’s important to carry our concerns with us as we collectively move forward into a XR/VR world, but there are manifold ways AI and AR based technologies can help communities solve problems and improve health and happiness. At the moment, there aren’t rules to what is considered to be “inside the metaverse,” whether the experience is virtual clothing or Fortnite-based concerts. 

The future is in fact ours to build.

The metaverse is on the brink of moving from theoretical to actualized, and companies looking to stay at the forefront of their industry would be wise to stay engaged. AI-driven and experiential solutions can drive customer engagement, build brand loyalty, and help organizations plan for a Gen-Z inspired future. 

Want to learn more about the Metaverse? Contact Cloutel today. 

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