EMOTIONAL AI: A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Bhosale Deepak, General Manager-IT, Asian paints | Wednesday, 29 August 2018, 12:05 IST

EMOTIONAL AI: A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS“A picture is worth a thousand words" is an English language idiom. It refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image or that an image of a subject conveys its meaning or emotions or essence more effectively than a description does. Our facial expression or our body language does speak of our wants or desires. It’s these wants which find expression through speech and body language. A popular research has shown that only 7 percent of human communication is actually based on the actual words we say. As for the rest, 38 percent comes from tone of voice and the remaining 55 percent comes from body language.

Now demystifying this unsaid 93 percent can make a hell lot of difference to any marketer especially in a country like India wherein we as a country are very expressive about our choices. Understanding the feeling is critical as that allows a marketer to get a good, deep insight into the minds of the customers. Often products, services, and experiences are designed only on what the customer states or that these are not necessarily complete inputs to design the products or services. It’s largely the unsaid or the implied which makes the difference. ­

Technology is bringing in excit­ing times for marketers in terms of getting into the emotions of the customers. What is really disrupt­ing in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) world now apart from Natural Language Processing is image and video recog­nition capabilities which are matur­ing fast. Marketers are now suddenly staring at exciting opportunities es­pecially in the area of customer ac­quisition and loyalty retention.

Emotional AI is becoming in­creasing relevant as it measuring ex­pressions of emotions unobtrusively. All one needs is a camera. The Emo­tional AI technology is able to iden­tify the human face in the image or video now on a real-time basis. Com­puter vision algorithms do recognize key landmarks on the face – for exam­ple the corners of your eyebrows, the tip of your nose, the corners of your mouth, etc. Machine Learning algo­rithms then analyze pixels in those regions to classify facial expressions. Combinations of these facial expres­sions are being mapped to emotions. Using deep learning approaches, one can very quickly tune ML algorithms for high performance and accuracy.

“Emotional AI is going to be the biggest disruptor in the coming time when it comes to getting into the mind of the customer”

Let’s understand how disruption can happen. Let’s take an example of a typical retail customer who shops today in the large format shopping malls. Let’s observe the typical emo­tional journey here.

One can see that the journey is full of emotions expressed either in the digital or nondigital channels. Indian retailing brands have done pretty well till date by just under­standing the pulse of the country by operating in the 7 percent space on stated customer needs through the traditional channels of in-show interviews, surveys, market research etc. The fact that there is a great deal of the local understanding of the culture and ethos does help. But will Emotional AI disrupt this local differentiator?

Imagine if a new entrant like Walmart focuses on the 93 percent which mines the emotions in the un­said form. They would want to lit­erally ‘Mind read’ or understand the intent of the customer by mining the emotions. Digital technologies like tonality detection, image recogni­tion, video disintegration, IoT, and prescriptive analytics have offered disrupting capabilities to Walmart. Walmart can technically scan all the digital content the customer would have shared across the social media and other instore interactions. There is good enough data to understand the motivations of the customers and craft a personalized and contextual journey for the customers. The cus­tomer would get recognized immedi­ately upon entering the store. Walmart can mine customer movements within the store. A customer walking into a store or mall display a range of emotions while interacting with the store managers or the merchandise. A raised eyebrow would go up to express doubt and a genuine smile can be recognized when it creates the crow feet like crinkles at the tip of her eyes. This seen in the context of a dis­count being offered or in the way the merchandise is placed or priced can give a whole new meaning.

In every interaction, the customer through whatever emotions know­ingly or unknowingly tries to give a message to his marketers. The tech­nology can now pick these streams of messages on a real-time basis and feed to a cognitive backend engine which will churn out an insight for taking the next best action towards winning the customer. The next level of innovation is bound to come in through IoT enabled racks which will alert you on products which are relevant for you.

Emotional AI is going to be the biggest disruptor in the com­ing time when it comes to getting into the mind of the customer. It might sound scary for us as indi­viduals as our emotional and expres­sions are going to be the fodder for the new age digital marketer. The law will anyway catch up soon in terms of ensuring its being used for mutual benefit.

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