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EETE JULAUG 2014

Websites’ emotional impact revealed by webcams By Julien happich A spin-of from the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL), Belgium startup GetSmily - www.getsmily.com - has developed a set of web analytics tools that correlate page views, mouse cursor’s movements and click-through rate with the emotional state of whoever visits the website. Central to this new concept is the ability for the visited website to look back at the user’s facial expressions through a webcam. Dubbed Emolytics as a contraption of the two words emotion and analytics, the new concept stems from academia, when UCL researcher David Frenay was developing very granular video analytics algorithms for the detection of human emotions. Until now, the most prominent use-cases for emotion analysis remained fairly niche and didn’t make it quite out of the lab. For example in the health sector, emotionally-aware robots could adapt their behaviour to the emotional response of a person, they could help autistic children communicate their feelings, or find the most appropriate help scenario for the elderly while mimicking a human presence. By enabling these algorithms to operate through a simple webcam, GetSmily’s co-founder and CEO David Hachez expanded these tools to a broader market. In Hachez’ vision, technology should adapt to humans, and Emolytics is one step in the right direction, taking human emotions into account for the optimization of web user interfaces. According from market data provided by Hachez, 90% of brands and businesses design their websites to offer what they think is the best service, but only 8% of consumers would agree the websites offer an excellent surfing experience. “There is a huge gap between what brands and what consumers perceive as a satisfying and easy to navigate website” says Hachez, “and by adding the human factor that is emotion into web analytics, we are able to reduce that gap”. The tool is set up in under a minute, and since the algorithm runs on the cloud, only two extra lines of code are needed for a website to analyse and explore the emotional feedback of its visitors. Hachez totally understands the possible concerns that users may have for their privacy, and the tool is built in such a way that it doesn’t record the full video but only keeps facial emotional metadata extracted from a complex adaptive mesh that is superimposed on the video stream. A simple widget on the website invites users to share their emotional feedback and asks them if they wish to activate the webcam for that purpose. There are no cookies and each web-browsing session will ask for permission to use the webcam. GetSmily’s customers can then access the so called “emolytics®” report, mixing traditional web analytics with emotion-based feedback to yield an Emoscore, a sort of emotionalimpact ranking. But why would you accept to be filmed as you browse the web? For end-users surfing the web, Hachez sees the new widget as a new opportunity to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction, a very simple and unobtrusive way to let them provide natural feedback, without being limited to a questionnaire. From live testing performed on several partners’ websites, the natural inclination of users to let their emotions speak for themselves translated into an acceptance rate ranging from 8 to 19%. In the future, websites could increase that acceptance rate by offering recurring visitors to download a free report of their emotional stats, or visitors could qualify momentarily as expert user-interface tester. The new tool enables brands to perform large-scale audits to track users’ emotional involvement over time, a decentralized and more cost-effective way to perform group tests. “Humans are complex, they have varying moods, they don’t behave linearly and what a single person will experience surfing a given web page one day could differ broadly from another day”, says Hachez, “but the Emoscore of a page could be used to adapt the layout or the wording so as to improve the perception that one could have from what they read, based on their state of mind”. Once GetSmily will have gathered and correlated enough empirical data about end-user behaviour and website user-interfaces, the company could well identify specific layout tactics to play on the end-user’s mood. So in the future, you could even conceive emotion-adaptive web design, a notch above adaptive design that only takes screen-size into consideration. “I won’t detail more as we have several patents pending on this topic”, said Hachez. The startup is just about to close its first round of investment, hoping to secure one million euros for a commercial launch in July. 24 Electronic Engineering Times Europe July/August 2014 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE JULAUG 2014
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