The financial crisis has pretty much stalled all start-up investment activities but now there are signs that they are slowing coming back. Among a few cool companies on the radar is Exaudios. It is the equivalent of a lie detector but works more like an emotional detector. They can analyze the intonation of someone’s voice when they call you on your cell to see if he or she is calm, stressed out, cheerful or simply angry. They claim that it is up to 80% accuracy. I have been playing with the idea for a while and I think they have solved some of the key technical challenges.
Their strategy is to sell this to call centers but I am not sure why, I guess when an angry customer call then they can switch to an automated response and when a happy voice call they forward the call to the sales center to cross sell you cable channel package or whatever. I am trying to think of other applications potential, but then any human can sense that if the other person is happy or upset, why do we need this? Only if they can apply this with different offerings and test you response. I don’t think it makes sense for call center at all, because most people are pissed anyway that they have to call for support. Everything can be done on the web, and if they have to call, they have reasons to be unhappy.
I think most call center people knew I was unhappy when I called, I didn’t think they were empowered to do anything. They weren’t allowed to give you a name to escalate. And sometimes people don’t care, why would that person three thousand miles away sitting in a five hundred people call center cared about your emotions? There is not much they can do anyway.
The only thing I think it would work is when a customer starts yelling, the system will detect it and the call will be redirected and jointly handle by a senior person, that way you can yell at two persons instead of one. Or there are special units that are good defusing angry customers, call them ‘negotiators’. The intonation analysis software can also correlate with physical conditions. I still don't think call center is the right application although they think that's where the money is.
The company also sells a solution for HR. It is SaaS application that allows organization to determine the emotional attitude of a candidate towards a specific job, providing an insight into the personality of a candidate and suitability for a specific job. I am not sure how it works. Everyone can sound happy during a job interview. They also claim that the solution predict the likelihood of employees to work together as a team. That’s a stretch and you have to convince me. But I do think this technology has potential, but not the applications they have in mind. I have a few in my mind.