When we think about how computers can help us, we naturally think about the rational execution of tasks. But there is another exciting prospect: they will learn to respond to our emotions.

In our 2014 trends report, we highlighted the use of biometric technology to measure human emotions. Since then, there have been significant improvements in technology that mean we can discern emotions in gestures and speech.

The spread of smartphones means that many people now carry mood-sensing devices in their pockets. As emotion recognition technology becomes more sophisticated and more deeply embedded in our array of devices, it will provide us with a continual progression of customised triggers and messaging. This will give brands the opportunity to match consumers’ moods and behaviours with relevant content, just right for that moment.

Emotion recognition technology was initially used to understand how consumers engage with brand content and advertising, and how their emotions influence brand awareness and purchase intent. Now it is also used to infuse consumer experiences, apps and interactive advertising with emotional AI.

Bentley has used emotion recognition technology to produce customised vehicles. The ‘Bentley Inspirator’ monitored a consumer’s reaction to a film of several different scenes, then presented them with a Bentayga SUV with colour, veneer and wheels customised according to their reactions.

The New Zealand bank BNZ created its EmotionScan website to measure its customers’ responses to various difficult financial situations. It presented them with an infographic of their emotional reactions, and offered to set up a meeting with a specialist to discuss how BNZ could help them with the subjects they felt least comfortable about.

In five years’ time when the Internet of Things becomes an integral part of our homes, some of our household devices will respond to our emotions. Our cars will sense our moods and offer up concierge-like recommendations. Services will have emotions designed into the experience. For example, your mobile wallet might send you a message to tell you that your impulse clothing purchase won’t make you happy, or your refrigerator might caution you to wait 20 minutes before deciding to binge on ice cream after a stressful day.

What does this mean for brands?

Emotion recognition technology enables brands to make more emotionally relevant recommendations and create customised narratives that evolve depending on viewers’ reactions. This technology will also help programmatic advertising become better at maintaining user engagement. As advertising becomes more automated, emotional recognition technology allows brands to personalise the way that content is served to consumers.

There many different applications for emotional recognition technology. For example, brands that have an association with a particular sport or team could use it to offer more relevant experiences based on consumer reactions during a sporting event. Equally, this could work for brands that are cherished by a nation as they aggregate and visualise the national emotion at key points in the calendar and serve content accordingly.

Download the full Zenith’s 2017 Trends report here.

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