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Your ears will transmit your emotions and behaviors to your smartphone

3 minutes

Audio tracking

At SXSW 2018, Poppy Crum, Chief Scientist at Dolby Laboratories, showed us just how artificial intelligence-enhanced tracking technologies can capture what is happening inside our bodies and can know our emotions!


Le fait

Dolby Laboratories are developing new technologies in the field of sound. Sound is being increasingly used in online purchasing through the use of smart speakers such as Amazon Echo or Google Home (the most well-known devices), but is in fact capable of doing far more.

In fact, in Dolby’s and the University of California’s laboratories in-ear headphones are being taken to a whole new level. Thanks to their sensors, these headphones not only play music in our ears but also detect what is happening in our bodies through the inner ear. The inner ear is a veritable physiological hub and these headphones can detect your heart rate, stress levels, felt emotions, mental states and even the line of sight, via the optic nerve. Especially since it is often sound that directs our gaze. As far as Poppy Crum is concerned, the ear is the bridge between the real world and our internal world.

The ear even becomes a unique identifier, through the use of a head-related transfer function (HRTF). This function modifies the sound of the outside world in a unique way, specific to each individual, so that the brain then analyses these sound signals.

With this auditory tracking technology combined with algorithms, the ear becomes a personal data provider.


More generally, our face is an open book that reveals our physiological and psychological state. Indeed, new generations of highly sensitive cameras are now able to analyse blood flow to the face and determine the emotional state of the subject under observation. Notably, experiments in this field are being carried out by Microsoft at their laboratories. These cameras can sense the amount of CO2 exhaled and thereby calculate our breathing rate, which reflects our emotional status!


Le décodage

The inner ear is indeed the bridge to our actions and our emotions. It could, in the near future, connect with third parties via in-ear earphones. We can forget the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, as it is our bodies that are the main providers of personal data, as explained by Dolby Technologies.

Today, Google and Apple are marketing headphones and we can imagine that these very headphones, equipped with sensors, will be capable of analysing our emotional states. These headphones could, as mentioned above, detect the direction of our gaze and once paired up with our telephones, geolocate us. Google could potentially be notified of the ads we have seen throughout the day and the emotions they generated, to achieve more targeted marketing strategies. Similarly, in store, it would be possible to discover the impact of merchandising or a promotion, on the customer.


As for our smartphone cameras, they could analyse us in real time and cross-reference that with the actions we carry out on our mobile phones.

Beyond this Black Mirror type terrifying future, in-ear measurement is, above all, a technology that could revolutionise mental assessment for each and everyone of us, as voice analysis is already able to identify mental illnesses, even before they have been diagnosed in a more traditional way. This could represent an opportunity for the health sector, and potentially improved care for patients but, for this to be possible, we would have to be willing to grant unrestricted access to our physiological data!

As an expert in emerging technologies, Nicolas travels to innovation shows around the world to spot and analyse the new trends.
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