Emotions are at the root of every human interaction and experience. Over the last few years, we have seen researchers develop artificial intelligence (AI) that can detect how people are feeling. Feed the AI algorithm with images or video of human faces, and it will return whether people are happy, sad, anxious, or angry, or one of many shades in between. All in an instant.

Entrepreneurs and innovators are busy exploring how this new form of insight can be used to create new and improved services or products. The potential impact ranges from advertising to healthcare.

One patch of fertile ground for AI emotion detection is the transport sector. Billions of journeys are made across the world every year and at the heart of each is a human being with shifting emotions. Here we traverse two of the possible targets for this technology in the near future.

Happy autonomous experience

Companies developing autonomous vehicles are interested in how passengers feel while they are being transported. Is the AI making the car accelerate too fast for this particular passenger? Do they feel sick? What advert is most suitable to display to them at this time?

These are all questions that AI emotion detection software could help to answer in real-time, with the autonomous vehicle adjusting its behaviour accordingly. Face-tracking cameras within the car could provide all the information required.

Also, before full autonomy arrives, knowing the emotional state of a driver who has to take back control of the vehicle will be key to safer transitions.

Pay your ticket with your emotions

The operators of public transport would love to understand how their passengers are feeling, minute by minute. With AI emotion detection, they could develop the ability to do this. The insights collected could be used to trigger interventions such as changing driver behaviour or tweaking the temperature.

Could we also see emotions being used to pay a portion of the fare? If a passenger is happy throughout a journey, the operator gets 100 per cent of the fare. If, however, their emotions deteriorate sufficiently as the journey unfolds, the operator gets paid less.

 Image by geralt via Pixabay