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Apple Acquires Emotient the Artificial-Intelligence Startup

Emotient, a company which has been known for its ability to use artificial intelligence to read the emotions of people by analyzing their facial expression has been purchased by Apple Inc.

We cannot really say what the tech giant plans to do with the technology it bought from Emotient, a technology that was sold primarily to advertisers in order to know the reaction of viewers to their ads. Doctors used the Emotient technology to interpret signs of pains when patients are not able to express themselves. Retailers have also used the technology to monitor the facial expressions of shoppers when they are leaving the stores, helping them know the real feeling of the customer.

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The Silicon Valley is really hot with competition for improved image recognition technologies with Facebook Inc, Google and others investing a lot of time, effort and money in artificial-intelligence technologies. One of Apple’s spokesperson confirmed the purchase by saying, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we always try not to discuss the purpose of these purchases or our future plans.”

Many tech companies are busy gathering enormous databases of human emotions by using technologies that rely heavily on algorithms to analyze people’s faces to know their deepest feelings. Although this technology has been touted to come with some benefits, there are lots of concerns on its ability to keep the privacy of people intact.

Based in San Diego, Emotient has made over $8 million from investors, and the company even started seeking new rounds of venture capital financing but after it wasn’t able to secure one, it decided to become Apple’s.

Earlier this week, the company had rewritten some pages on its website and it also removed some of the services it used to offer. Apple used to show interest in a technology that could analyze and identify people’s mood based on facial expressions and some other clues; by acquiring Emotient, Apple showed that it hasn’t dumped its plans.

In May 2015, Emotient announced that it will be granting a patent for a method of collecting and carefully labeling as many as 100,000 facial images a day, it had said that this will help computers easily understand different expressions.

Last January, Dr Eknam had an interview with The Wall Street Journal and he said this concerning the emotion reading technology, “I am torn between the power of software to read emotions and the need to ensure that this doesn’t infringe on the privacy of people. Technology could reveal people’s emotions without their consents and their feelings could be misinterpreted, thereby, causing problems in friendships, relationships, marriages and workplaces.”

Even after a year of revealing his fear, Dr Eknam had said on Wednesday that his concerns still stand, thereby pushing Emotient to state that it would not be scanning people’s faces in public places and even if it does, it would not reveal any information on a random individual’s emotion.

Google has treaded carefully when it comes to the facial recognition technology by banning any app that uses facial recognition technology and it introduced its Web-connected eyewear, the Google Glass.

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Facebook Inc has been aggressively rolling out its facial-recognition software by making it possible for people to tag friends in photos. The social media guru has said that it plans to make a facial recognition technology that will recognize the faces of friends at the door and automatically let them in.


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