What is Affective Computing?


Affective computing refers to the idea that humans can program machines to recognize, interpret, process, and simulate the range of human emotions. This concept revolves around the development of software and hardware that enable computers to attain humanlike understanding through activities such as implementing a video camera to capture facial cues and gestures that work in conjunction with an algorithm that detects and interprets these interactions. Not to be confused with facial recognition technologies associated with security, like those that facilitate secure payment transactions, affective computers recognize emotional and behavioral signals that trigger a reactionary process. In higher education, a potential application of affective computing is in online learning situations wherein a computerized tutor reacts to facial indications of boredom from a student in an effort to motivate or boost confidence. With researchers at major institutions including MIT and University of Cambridge working on educational applications, and start-up companies exploring other novel uses, growth in this field has deep implications for the future of human and computer interactions.

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