Jan 042014


For as long as we’ve been imagining emotionally intelligent machines, we have pictured something at least mildly resembling the human form.

From George Lucas’ C-3PO to the recently-developed Robokind Zeno R25, our vision for robotic companionship has typically involved two arms and two legs. Taking a different approach is inventor of the EmoSpark console Patrick Rosenthal, who aims to bring artificial intelligence to consumers in the form of a cube small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

The EmoSpark console is a 90 x 90 x 90 mm (3.5 x 3.5 x 3.5 in) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled cube that interacts with a user’s emotions using a combination of content analysis and face-tracking software. In addition to distinguishing between each member of the household, the device uses custom developed technology that Rosenthal says enables it to differentiate between basic human feelings and create emotion profiles of not just everybody it interacts with, but also itself.

“While the technology behind face-tracking is well established, what we’ve done differently is use it to track and process different emotions,” Rosenthal tells Gizmag. “The EmoSpark Cube contains a unique chip invented by myself called the Emotional Processing Unit. This allows the cube to build up its own Emotional Profile Graph (EPG) as it interacts with its users. The cube saves all this information and, just like a fingerprint, will over time will keep an emotional print of each family member with which it interacts.”

Users communicate with the cube by either typing or talking to it through their television, or remotely via a smartphone, tablet or computer. By analyzing this data and using its face-tracking technology, the cube is designed to acquaint itself with the user over time by gauging their likes, dislikes and different moods based on eight primary human emotions: joy, sadness, trust, disgust, fear, anger, surprise and anticipation.

Initially, the cube works to improve your mood and overall happiness by connecting to and recommending particular songs and videos or content on sites such as Facebook and YouTube. As the relationship between the cube and user develops, the device becomes more skilled in the art of conversation and nuanced in its offers of comfort – something Rosenthal considers a significant mark of progress in artificial intelligence and integral to the technology.

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