Can An Algorithm Be Empathetic? UK Startup EI Technologies Is Building Software That’s Sensitive To Tone Of Voice


Often it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it that matters. Especially if you’re being sarcastic to a customer services operator. Such nuance is obviously lost on automated speech systems, more’s the pity (and, indeed, on some human ears) but don’t give up hope of being able to mock your future robot butler with a sassy response. UK startup EI Technologies, one of 17 in the current Wayra London incubator cohort, is developing a voice recognition platform that can identify emotion by analysing vocal qualities with an accuracy rate it says is already better than the average human ear.

EI Technologies’ algorithm analyses the tonal expression of the human voice, specifically looking at “acoustic features”, rather than verbal content — with the initial aim of powering a smartphone app that can help people track and monitor their moods. The idea for the app – which will be…

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