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Founded Massachusetts, United States (December 12, 2009 (2009-12-12))[1][2]

Rana el Kaliouby, Ph.D.[2][3]

CEO & Co-founder

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

Headquarters Boston, Massachusetts, United States[4][5]
Products Affdex,[6] Q Sensor[7]
Services emotion measurement technology[8]

Affectiva is an emotion measurement technology company that grew out of MIT's Media Lab[9][10] which has developed a way for computers to recognize human emotions based on facial cues or physiological responses. Among the commercial applications, this emotion recognition technology is used to help brands improve their advertising and marketing messages.[10][11] Another major application has been in political polling.[1] In 2011, the company partnered with Millward Brown,[8][12] which is itself a part of the Kantar Group, the market research, insight and consultancy division of WPP plc, a London-based public company.

Emotion measurement technology[edit]

Affectiva's technology can enable 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 anything. This is done using color changes in the person's face, which pulse 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][10][11] The company developed the first online facial tracking system for testing advertising.[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][10][13]

In its first three years of operation, Affectiva also made and sold the first comfortably wearable biosensor measuring electrodermal activity, "Q Sensor," that monitored changes in the user's emotional state via her skin.[1][7]


Affectiva was co-founded by Rana el Kaliouby, Ph.D., who is currently serving as the company's chief executive officer, and Rosalind W. Picard, Sc.D., who worked as Chief Scientist until 2013. Motivated by growing demand for the Q sensor, Picard later co-founded a new company, Empatica Inc., that makes an improved version of the Q Sensor wearable device. Both of Affectiva's early products grew out of collaborative research at the MIT’s Media Lab[1][9][10] to help people on the autism spectrum.[13]

The company featured its technology and products at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2013.[2][10][11][14]

A feature length article on the founding and history of Affectiva appears in the January 19, 2015 issue[15] 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. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Contact us". Affectiva. 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. 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 "Eureka Park Returns" (Press release). National Science Foundation. January 7, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ a b c Berkowitz, David (January 15, 2013). "Scoring the 5 Trends for Marketers at CES". AdAge. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  12. ^ Fernandez, Joe (January 16, 2013). "Millward Brown signs Unilever and Coke to facial coding deals". Research. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Lynch, Zack (January 17, 2013). "Let the NeuroGames Begin". VentureBeat. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  14. ^ Frick, Walter (January 7, 2013). "Some Boston Companies to Watch at CES This Week". BostInno. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  15. ^ Khatchadourian, Raffi (January 19, 2015). "We Know How You Feel". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 

External links[edit]