Emotion Recognition Software Future Tool for NegotiatorsSoftware is available that developers claim can measure the emotions revealed on a person’s face. If it’s accurate and could be used discretely on some kind of personal device or Google Glass, future negotiators could have real time input on the emotions the other party is showing. This could change how a negotiation is done.

Microsoft has a new app that reportedly can measure feelings exhibited on a person’s face when a photo is taken. It breaks up the image of the face into emotional constituents and develops a score concerning anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, neutral, sadness and surprise. The app has a learning process that builds its predictions over time. The more photos it reads, the more it will improve (software updates over time should also help)

The folks at Hypebeast tried out the app on a photo of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. The results were,

  • For Kanye, mostly emotionally neutral, with some contempt (for the photographer, not Kardashian, I hope), happiness and sadness.
  • Kardashian scored mostly in happiness, with a bit of contempt (for the photographer, not Kanye, I hope), neutrality and surprise.

No measurement of more subtle emotions or body language (yet) but this is a start.

Software by California-based Emotient can do something similar, according to Livescience, and perhaps better. Using a digital image the software, called Facet, analyzes a human face and tries to determine whether the person is feeling joy, sadness, surprise, anger, fear, disgust, contempt or any combination thereof.

Facet can also be used on video tracking changing emotions and their degree of strength or weakness over time. It also can capture “microexpressions” or momentary flickers of emotion passing over a face before the person can control themselves or the person might not be aware they’re registering an emotion.

The article states Facet’s applications are far-reaching including treating children with autism to testing video games. But this technology could also come in handy during face to face negotiations or mediation, assuming it’s accurate enough and the other party isn’t aware it’s being used.

If you can get a good enough read of the other party’s emotional state (above and beyond the obvious signs) it would impact how you negotiate. If you give a proposal to which the other party, though non-verbal, registers happiness or satisfaction you’d be less inclined to make it any better. Claims the offer isn’t good enough would be contradicted by the software. It may just be a ploy to try to sweeten an offer that’s already acceptable.

If negative feelings are being detected, one could monitor the emotional changes in the other party as the offer changes. You would be able to better judge how much better the offer needs to be to reach a resolution. Once you see enough satisfaction or happiness in the other party, claims an offer is insufficient might be rebuffed and you could declare it a final offer.

If and when this technology exists it could also be used against you and your client as well. As a condition of future face to face negotiations or mediations both parties may need to agree not to use such technology as it would result in an unfair advantage to the party with more money to buy it or a party that’s more tech savvy, using the latest and greatest version of the software.

Until that day comes you’ll have to rely on your eyes, ears and brain to judge the other party’s emotions and decide how to best negotiate for your client.