What you need to know
- A Microsoft Research project studied the use of AI to read people's non-verbal communications during virtual meetings.
- The study used a bot within Teams calls to identify various emotions.
- The study suggests positive results from using AI to enhance communication.
A Microsoft study used an AI tool to monitor people's expressions and non-verbal communication during video calls. The AI is called AffectiveSpotlight, and it uses a neural network to classify the expressions of people. AffectiveSpotlight was tested against random selection to help presenters see people's reactions. The study was recently highlighted by NewScientist.
Generally, people are good at reading non-verbal communication. It's normal to pick up on subtle, and not-so-subtle, facial expressions and other cues within conversations. That type of communication tends to suffer on video calls. Not only are people's video feeds smaller than people appear in real life, but we're also often looking at several people at once on a grid.
Microsoft's website has a page on human-computer interaction that includes several publications. One publication, titled "AffectiveSpotlight: Facilitating the Communication of Affective Responses from Audience Members during Online Presentations" goes over observations on using AI to monitor people's expressions.
Its summary states:
The results of the study suggest that the AI helped presenters:
During testing, ActiveSpotlight highlighted 40 percent of participants during talks, which is significantly less than the 87 percent selected with the random software.
This is only a single publication, so it may be some time before we see AI integrated with everyday calls. It does show the promise of the concept of using AI to enhance communication.
Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cortana can barely discern scheduling intent from my emails. I'm not holding my breath for this. Not to knock the researchers but really useful conversational AI seems farther away than self driving cars.
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