Computers have always been good at doing fast calculations, but adapting to the emotional state of the person using the computer – now there is a grand challenge! The field is called affective computing, and soon it will be an important factor in the way people and computers communicate with each other.
The computer will interpret your body language to determine how you are feeling and then tailor its response intuitively, just as we do with each other. What's more, we will like it because it is far more intuitive than the keyboard, mouse and touch screen as an input method. As a way of communicating, emotion is very old indeed. Long before humans invented spoken language we communicated non-verbally at an emotional level. It is still the principal way that we get information from each other, with around 70% of a message's content being conveyed by body language, about 20% by tone of voice and only 10% by words. .
This is why we are able to instinctively recognize people's emotional state. Wherever you are in the world, you can tell when a stranger is angry or happy or sad. Indeed it is such an ancient way that many people can accurately gauge how animals are feeling based on their body language.
Affective computing allows humans and computers to go beyond keyboards and use these rich, non-verbal channels of communication to good effect.
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