Publicly traded Swedish company, Smart Eye has announced the acquisition of emotion-detection tech initiative Affectiva for a whopping $73.5 million. The deal between the two companies is a cash-and-stock deal. Spun out of MIT Media Lab in the year 2009, Affectiva has developed a technology that can detect and comprehend human emotion.
Smart Eye, a company that delivers driver monitoring systems for automakers, wants to integrate Affectiva’s software with its own artificial intelligence-backed eye-tracking technology.
The driver monitoring systems of Smart Eye is the technology which is used in regard with advanced driver assistance systems to measure and track awareness.
Harnessing the power of Affectiva’s software, Smart Eye wants to go beyond driver monitoring systems. The combined technology could help them enter the emerging interior sensing market. Interior sensing is the technology used to monitor the vehicle’s cabin and deliver services according to the drivers’ emotional state.
Terms of Affectiva’s acquisition deal
Through this acquisition deal, about $67.5 million will be paid with 2,354,668 new Smart Eye shares. 2,015,626 of these shares will be issued upon closing of the transaction. The remaining 339,042 Smart Eye shares will be issued within 2 years of closing. $6 million will be paid in cash to Affectiva once the deal closes in June 2021.
Smart Eye and Affectiva were competitors. A meeting at the CES in 2020 put the 2 companies on a path to merge. Dr. Rana el Kaliouby, Affective co-founder and CEO said Martin Krantz (Smart Eye Founder and CEO) and himself realized that both the companies essentially were on the same path, so wouldn’t it be great if they both joined forces.
Dr. el Kaliouby added that by joining forces, they’ll check off all the boxes for what original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are looking for in interior sending. They’ll leapfrog the competition and they will also have an opportunity to do it faster and better than they would have done it on their own, he adds.
Boston-headquartered Affectiva is an AI company that brings its emotion-detection technology to the deal. It will enable Smart Eye to provide its existing automotive partners a wide variety of products.
Smart Eye will help Affectiva move beyond the prototype and development phase and into production contracts. Smart Eye has already grabbed 84 production contracts with about 13 OEMs, which include BMW and GM.
Smart Eye has offices in Gothenburg, Detroit, Chongqing, China and Tokyo. It also has a division that gives research organizations, like NASA, high-fidelity eye tracking systems for human factors research.
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What is emotion recognition?
Emotion detection and recognition is a technology that allows a program to analyze and examine the emotions and sentiments that come up on a human face by using sophisticated image dispensation. Companies around the world have been testing the combination of advanced code and formulas with image processing practices that have been used in the past 10 years. They’ve been doing so to understand more deeply what an image or a video of a person’s face communicates regarding how the person is feeling.
What can today’s emotion recognition software do? The software for emotion detection and recognition we have in the world are capable of capturing what experts describe as ‘micro-expressions’ or restrained cues of a non-verbal communication and body language. By “understanding” these body language cues and facial micro-expressions, emotion detection software are able to perceive emotions, such as happiness, surprise, sadness, nervousness and anger.
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Where is emotion detection and recognition technology used?
Emotion detection technology is widely used in the healthcare industry. The artificial intelligence-based software helps medical professionals in deciding when patients need medicine and even helps doctors determine which patient to see first.
The technology also works hand-in-hand with biometric image identification and facial recognition technologies. These technologies are integrated in security situations. For example, emotion detection software can be used by authorities to investigate someone at some point during an interrogation or interview.
Automotive manufacturers around the world are increasingly paying attention to making cars more safe and personal, more industry players are integrating emotion detection technology in their vehicles. The technology is being used in making car features more smart. Using AI and emotion detection will help the system of the vehicle understand things like when the driver is feeling a little drowsy.
The growth of emotion detection and recognition technology
According to a MarketsandMarkets report, the global emotion detection and recognition market is expected to grow from US$19.5 billion in 2020 to US$37.1 billion by the year 2026 at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 11.3% . There are many key factors contributing to and driving growth to this market.
The increasing need for integration of speech-centric emotion detection systems to understand emotional states is one crucial factor. Another key factor is the fast-paced adoption of technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Internet of Things and deep learning, across the world.
The accelerating need for high operational accuracy and excellence, socially intelligent artificial agents and the growing demand in the AI automotive industry are some other factors contributing to the growth of emotion detection and recognition market.
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 MarketsandMarkets Research Private Ltd. (2021) “Emotion Detection and Recognition Market by Component (Software (Facial Expression Recognition, Speech & Voice Recognition), Services), Technology, Application Area, Vertical, Region – Global Forecast to 2026” [Online] Available from: https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/emotion-detection-recognition-market-23376176.html [Accessed May 2021]