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Apple Purchases Software Company To Read Users' Expressions ( 56

An anonymous reader writes: Apple's first disclosed acquisition of 2016 is software company Emotient, which specializes in reading users' expressions while they operate computers. Emotient uses AI software to break down micro-emotions shown on each face in a video frame and quantify it into three indicators: is the subject paying attention to the advertising, are they emotionally engaged, and are they showing a positive or negative emotion? The faces are pixelated to provide user anonymity without sacrificing the expression.
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Apple Purchases Software Company To Read Users' Expressions

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    So... how are they gonna get the images to predict what I'm gonna do?

  • The implementation is a rather trivial one:

    bool isUserPayingAttentionToTheAd() {
        return false;
    bool isUserEmotionallyEngaged() {
        return false;
    UserExpression getUserExpression() {
        return UserExpression.Neutral;

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well, I hope that thing can see through the piece of paper I keep taped over my camera. Remind me again why computer cameras don't come with some sort of analog switch or physical blocking piece?

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      No idea. I have black electrical tape over all of them, including ones from customers and the front-camera on my mobile phone. I would also disable the microphones, but that usually requires a lot more effort.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        One of the Snowden leaks was of a photo of a government official naked (sexual?) taken with the phone camera. Some are self taken, some are taken covertly. I assume you're smart enough not to take pictures of yourself in a bra snorting coke if you're a politicians! Since GCHQ or NSA could simply leak that to the press if you ever pissed them off, but your phone is with you all the time. But then somehow those pictures end up on British newspapers!

        People think the phone is off when the screen is off, and don

      • Black electrician tape? What if I don't know a black electrician?

        Go ahead and moan over the lame joke, I won't mind.

        On a more serious note I do keep in mind where my cameras are pointing. I'm thinking of upgrading my phone from a relatively stupid flip phone (it has a camera but it's almost always in a pocket or on a table) to an iPhone. An iPhone has two cameras and, assuming I use it much like my iPod touch, will rarely be in a pocket. I would be tempted to cover the cameras with tape.

        I'm sure there i

        • by gweihir ( 88907 )

          I think the problem with shutters is that they make the phone thicker. So no, I do not know of any.

    • "Remind me again why computer cameras don't come with some sort of analog switch or physical blocking piece?"

      That's what the Chiquita Banana stickers are for.

  • I thought "They bought a software company just to see the looks on the user's faces when they did it?"

    Then I started wondering what could they have bought to try to get their users to register shock or similar?

    Then I realized it was just another relatively poorly phrased headline. I assume from the blog this came from.

  • Ads are still around?

    I cut the cord and block them. Wish there was a way to do it while driving.

    I guess Apple isn't paying attention to people asking for privacy and blocking ads? "It just works" is trying to get into "It just spies".

  • Wait, Apple wants to know what expression their users have while they're using Apple products?

    I could have saved them some time and money: It's smugness.

  • But I'm interested if the software can detect the elusive "porn face"

    • But I'm interested if the software can detect the elusive "porn face"

      Mouth shape detection is relatively simple, doing the obligatory eye-roll detection is going to be the real trick

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @03:34AM (#51271517) Homepage

    Tie it into the user experience.

    When iCloud went down the other month, I had 500 iPads totally useless, because it forced you to sign in (even if you were already signed in or didn't want to sign in), refused any valid sign-in you gave it, and then repeated that ad nauseum. To the point that we just switched them all for the entire day.

    Similar things happen all the time with app installs, even with full Cisco Meraki MDM, and the initial setup? Fuck, don't even get me started.

    Maybe if it detects a confused or angry expression it should just shut the fuck up and let you carry on? Or present that hidden "Remember my answer" or "No to All" option that Apple seem to NEVER want to implement on anything.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Think of eyes tracking over a long list of decades of poster art for movies. The brand likes what artwork got a person to stop scrolling, stop, start reading a synopsis and even track the "look" at the rent/buy area of the gui.
      All that can help create per generation, age group or faith or region ready art or other ways of drawing people in.
      Was the art work in that part of the world too graphic, new or suggestive? Was the art work too dated for an emerging demographic? A brand can then track how its
      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        Or you could just ask people. It's called market research.

        The problem I have with modern technology is that no matter how many times I "Fix recommendations" or look for products "Similar to this" or offer up my loyalty card that tracks my purchases, I still only ever get adverts for shite I don't want, coupons for things I don't need (e.g. ladies products), and have to hunt down products I like but finding out their exact name and searching rather than going from things that attach to it, or are related to

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I can't tell you how many times I've told Facebook what adverts I'm NOT interested in and what ones I am and still I get nothing but shite reality TV crap advertised at me rather than a range of computer suppliers or video games.

          And YOU STILL use Facebook ?

          You're the idiot in this equation, and Zuckerberg the Jew is laughing at how stupid you are.

          Smart people do not use Facebook, period.

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          I kid but I must say it... With that sort of attitude, maybe you should buy a douche so you can wash the sand out of your vagina! (Yes, yes I had to say that. It's nothing personal.)

        • Or you could just ask people.

          In many cases, that's about the worst thing you can do.

          I don't know whether you're playing the fool, hopelessly naïve or genuinely uninformed.

          • Right, asking them is a terrible idea.

            So instead let's fucking video them so we can see if they liked the ads or not.

            Apple wants to use everyone's bandwidth so they can tell how effective ads are.

            Fuck that. It's crap like this why I don't want a smart phone -- a smart phone is just a platform for a bunch of greedy assholes to monetize everything you do, and sell it to third parties.

            Who the fuck wants to be spied on so some marketing company knows how effective its ads are?

            • Hardly any people cheat on their spouses or steal things from work. The vast majority are prepared to pay more for higher quality, whether that's products or public services.

              Well, that's what they say.

              If you think you can find the truth by surveys and questionnaires then former UK Prime Minister Neil Kinnock would like to talk to you.

    • ad nauseum

      Do it properly or don't do it at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... are they emotionally engaged, and are they showing a positive or negative emotion?

    Now, Apple can never sell porn.

  • ...before selling the company they used their software to read the emotions of Apple's representatives.
  • People love being spied on--right?

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