Australian-Indian behind computers that can read human emotion

May 23rd, 2008 - 3:45 pm ICT by admin  

By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, May 23 (IANS) An Australian-Indian is part of a consortium of scientists who are developing and licensing information and communication technologies (ICTs) that can interact with humans in an emotionally intelligent manner. Some of the top minds working in corporate and university research laboratories in Australia, India, Japan and Singapore have developed emotionally intelligent computers - which their new company, Human Mind Innovations (HMI) Pty Ltd, will license and put to commercial use.

The company merges the research interests of its principals - Chief Inventor and Associate Professor Rajiv Khosla from Melbourne’s La Trobe University’s School of Business and IT entrepreneur Anand Thyagarajan, who is the co-founder of Matrix View Ltd. and founder of technology and life sciences incubator Aadyana Holdings, Singapore.

“We are shifting the focus of ICT design from convenience to social innovation. What we’re trying to do is humanise the technology. We want to develop emotionally intelligent ICTs that interact in a human-like manner with people,” said Khosla, who did his masters and doctorate in computer science from La Trobe after coming to Australia from India in 1989.

“We want people to feel that ICTs are ‘real life’ and they’re looking after you: that you can use them for your own benefit. We want ICTs to empower people to improve their quality of life at work and at home in an emotionally intelligent manner,” Khosla, who graduated in electrical engineering from Kurukshetra University in Haryana and did a masters in management and systems from IIT Delhi, told IANS.

Complete with data compression systems, business savvy and sharply-honed emotional intelligence, these computers will not only change the way we live, they will also change the way we do business.

The ICTs set to emerge from HMI will take human-computer interaction to a new threshold, where computers will do what few humans can: recognise, measure and evaluate human emotional intelligence. These computers will give us direct feedback on our changing emotional states - taking their cue from our body language, especially our facial expressions.

“These are humanistic and philosophical breakthroughs as well as a major technological achievement - with particular potential for stress management, management planning, service delivery and healthcare”, Khosla said.

Among the most obvious beneficiaries are employers as the technology offers a new tool for benchmarking emotionally and culturally fit employees. Think customer service providers, HR planners, healthcare providers, business intelligence managers, driving instructors, tourism and holiday planners, emergency services managers.

Strongly supported by a strategic alliance with the multibillion global electronics corporation NEC (Nippon Electric Corporation) Japan, which is keenly interested in all aspects of humanising technology, the joint venture company is developing and commercialising a patent ‘Method and System for Monitoring Emotional State Changes’ filed last year. Further patents are expected to be filed in the near future.

The consortium and NEC Corporation are sponsoring a team of researchers from Japan, Australia and India. These would include three from the highly-ranked Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and one the from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology. They would work in NEC’s C & C Innovation Research Laboratories in Japan (which integrates Computers and Communications research), and La Trobe University’s Business Systems and Knowledge Modelling Laboratory (affiliated with HMI) in Melbourne, in the next six months, to develop prototypes.

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