Will Emotion Recognition Change the Way We Measure Events?
Tracking attendee engagement and satisfaction is essential for creating a successful experience, but only 28% of planners measure it accurately or in detail. That’s not exactly surprising considering that only 48% of planners use technology to collect and analyse data. Surveys and questionnaires can help shed light on people’s motivations and feelings, but nobody cares about replying to the tons of emails coming from planners.
Some planners use apps strategically at the end of every session but it all inevitably ends in survey fatigue.
Enter emotion recognition.
Emotion recognition is a new opportunity for continuous analysis of attendee reactions throughout the event. In essence point a camera at people, let AI interpret their body language and boom, no need for surveys. Is it the end of surveys as we know them?
Not so fast.
There is a growing movement of event professionals and attendees against the use of facial recognition and facial analysis at events.
First things first, let’s take a look at what emotion recognition is and why it is so controversial.
Emotion Recognition, What Is It?
Emotion recognition is the process of collecting data predominantly from facial and verbal expressions to analyse human emotion. While humans do this all the time as part of our normal social interactions, “computational methodologies have also been developed” that utilise things like signal processing, machine learning, and computer vision to do the same thing. Wikipedia 2019.
It’s a form of artificial intelligence (AI) that aggregates a number of data points to figure out how you feel. And it’s pretty powerful stuff.
Human beings use a combination of signals to recognise the type of emotion another person is experiencing. These signals include facial and verbal expressions, body posture, but also context and cultural bias.
Scientists have developed techniques using AI software, to try and replicate the way humans detect emotions. These techniques supposedly allow machines to correctly analyse a person’s emotions and state of mind and possibly predict that same person’s future behavior. They mainly focus on facial recognition software.
What is emotional recognition for?
The Chinese government has been implementing emotion recognition to predict criminal behavior as part of a nationwide effort to increase surveillance efforts. The idea is that you can identify criminal suspects by analysing in real-time their mental state (aggressiveness, stress levels, etc.) using video footage and emotion recognition technology. For the fans of Minority Report, there you go.
Apart from its application in surveillance, emotion detection technology can be used in fields as different as market research (to determine how customers feel about a brand or a product), healthcare (to help medical professionals assess the wellbeing of patients), the automotive industry (to monitor and detect driver impairment in smart cars), or video games (to test user experience). (Source The Guardian).
The Controversy: Are You Ready for Your Close-up?
The use of emotion recognition is controversial mainly because of the privacy concerns it raises, and the potentially harmful applications it can have.
For some, it’s the fear of entering an Orwellian Big Brother era, where police and national intelligence agencies can surveil the whole population and target certain populations.
For others, it’s imagining a world where everybody is aggressively and constantly targeted by commercial entities who want to sell their services or products.
Some have taken steps to resist the use of such technologies. For example, cities like San Francisco and Oakland, CA are banning the use of facial recognition by the city government, and 40 music festivals have pledged to ban facial recognition systems.
On the other hand, emotion recognition supporters rave about the opportunities it can bring, such as improved security through constant scanning of crowds for criminal elements, faster processing at airports, and speedier check-in at events, hotels, etc.
So what are the pros and cons of emotion recognition methods?