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FoundedMassachusetts, United States (December 12, 2009 (2009-12-12))[1][2]
FounderRana el Kaliouby, Ph.D.[2][3]
CEO & Co-founder

Rosalind W. Picard, Sc.D.[2][3]

ProductsAffdex,[6] Q Sensor[7]
Servicesemotion measurement technology[8]
Revenue$1-5 million[9]
Total equity(venture capital) $34 million[10]
Number of employees

Affectiva is an emotion measurement technology company that grew out of MIT's Media Lab.[11][12] Affectiva has developed software to recognize human emotions based on facial cues or physiological responses. Among its commercial applications, this emotion recognition technology is used to help brands improve their advertising and marketing messages.[12][13] Another major application has been in political polling.[1] In 2011, the company partnered with Millward Brown,[8][14] a unit of the Kantar Group, the market research, insight and consultancy division of WPP plc, a London-based advertising and public relations conglomerate.

Emotion measurement technology[edit]

Affectiva's technology enables software applications to use a webcam to track a user's smirks, smiles, frowns and furrows, which measures the user's levels of surprise, amusement or confusion.[1]

The technology also allows a person's heart rate to be measured from a webcam without the person wearing a sensor. This is accomplished by tracking color changes in the person's face, which pulses each time the heart beats.[1]


Affectiva's Affdex technology[6] can be used to train a webcam on users while they watch ads, tracking their smirks, smiles, frowns and furrows to measure their levels of surprise, amusement or confusion throughout a commercial and compare them to other viewers across different demographics.[1][5][12][13] The company developed the first online face tracking system for evaluation of advertising effectiveness.[5] Their clients for this technology include Coca-Cola and others.[2]

Political polling utilizes the technology to measure people's responses to a political debate.[1]

Games using this technology can adapt to a user's emotional experience, or the user's emotional state.[1][12][15]

In its first three years of operation, Affectiva designed and sold the first comfortably wearable biosensor measuring electrodermal activity, the "Q Sensor," that monitors changes in the user's emotional state via their skin.[1][7] In September 2017, Affectiva launched a cloud API to detect a range of emotion in human speech.[16]


Affectiva was co-founded by Rana el Kaliouby, Ph.D., who became chief executive officer as of May 25, 2016,[10] and Rosalind W. Picard, Sc.D., who worked as Chief Scientist until 2013. Motivated by growing demand for functions provided by the Q sensor (which Affectiva discontinued in 2013) and motivated by the medical needs of patients with epilepsy, Picard co-founded a new company, Empatica Inc., that created the first FDA-cleared smart watch for use in Neurology. Both of Affectiva's early products grew out of collaborative research at the MIT's Media Lab[1][11][12] to help people on the autism spectrum.[15]

The company featured its technology and products at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2013.[2][12][13][17]

A feature length article on the founding and history of Affectiva appeared in the January 19, 2015 issue[18] of The New Yorker.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bosker, Bianca (December 24, 2012). "Affectiva's Emotion Recognition Tech: When Machines Know What You're Feeling". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e Kerstetter, Jim (February 2, 2013). "Building better Super Bowl ads by watching you watch them". CNET. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Meet Our Team". Affectiva. Archived from the original on February 3, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  4. ^ "Contact us". Affectiva. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Girard, Kim (January 29, 2013). "Creating the Perfect Super Bowl Ad". Forbes. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Affdex". Affectiva. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Emotional Arousal Measurement". Affectiva. Archived from the original on April 27, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Milward Brown Emotional Measurement Offer Goes From Strength to Strength" (Press release). Affectiva. January 16, 2013. Archived from the original on February 3, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  9. ^ a b Company profile,, February 13, 2015, Retrieved May 17, 2017
  10. ^ a b Affectiva Announces $14 million in Growth Capital PR Newswire, May 25, 2016, Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Eureka Park Returns" (Press release). National Science Foundation. January 7, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Downes, Larry (January 12, 2013). "The Five Most Disruptive Technologies at CES 2013". Forbes. p. 2. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  13. ^ a b c Berkowitz, David (January 15, 2013). "Scoring the 5 Trends for Marketers at CES". AdAge. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  14. ^ Fernandez, Joe (January 16, 2013). "Millward Brown signs Unilever and Coke to facial coding deals". Research. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  15. ^ a b Lynch, Zack (January 17, 2013). "Let the NeuroGames Begin". VentureBeat. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  16. ^ Miller, Ron. "New Affectiva cloud API helps machines understand emotions in human speech". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  17. ^ Frick, Walter (January 7, 2013). "Some Boston Companies to Watch at CES This Week". BostInno. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  18. ^ Khatchadourian, Raffi (January 19, 2015). "We Know How You Feel". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 15, 2015.

External links[edit]