Emotional Virtual Reality: Paving the Way for Machine Learning

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Photo credit: Huffington Post

Toon Crier’s Founder & CEO Chris Sowa shared his team’s recent work in emotion virtual reality (eVR) at NewCo Boston on Wednesday afternoon and discussed the future applications of eVR in an interactive session. Attendees enjoyed the opportunity to discuss and even try how eVR will change the way people communicate in the digital world.

ToonCrier is creating innovative ways to interact using both voice and digital avatars that capture not just the words but the emotions behind them. Their technology uses a layered approach to enable applications to not only see a customers’ emotions, but also to gauge the intensity of those emotions. ToonCrier’s machine-learning technology uses smartphones and other devices to capture both nonverbal and verbal cues. These emotions are projected onto characters in a fun, yet authentic way.

Using video and demonstration, Sowa and his partner Jili Huang, brought the NewCo Boston group along their journey of research and problem-solving for their company’s application. Because it’s a common problem, people understand the frustration of communicating with text, email, or chat.  It limits the human interaction and emotional sharing. Sarcasm is lost; miscues are common, and even honesty may be limited by sharing in the digital realm.  ToonCrier’s work builds on previous research to develop avatars that read a user’s facial expressions and pick up cues in the tone of voice to create appropriate and helpful responses.

This important conversation took place during NewCo Boston, an annual festival hosted by MassTLC where 85+ tech companies open their doors and welcome the community in to learn about their vision and culture. NewCo is the brainchild of Wired Magazine founder John Battelle and is held in a couple dozen cities around the globe.

NewCo Boston is one of four signature industry-wide events MassTLC hosts throughout the year – the others include: Boston/TechJam in June, the Mass Technology Leadership Awards in September, and TRANSFORM in November. Check out our events calendar for details upcoming MassTLC events.