What is Affective Computing?

Affective computing is the idea that humans can program machines to recognize, interpret, process and simulate the range of human emotions. This concept centers on the development of programs and hardware that create the faculties for a computer to do this, such as implementing a video camera to capture facial cues and gestures that works in conjunction with an algorithm that can detect and interpret these human affects. Not to be confused with facial recognition technologies associated with security, like those that facilitate secure payment transactions, affective computers recognize emotional and behavioral cues that trigger a reactionary process in the computer. A potential application of affective computing is in online learning situations wherein a computerized tutor reacts to facial cues of boredom in a student in an effort to motivate or boost their confidence. With researchers already working on educational applications, and start-up companies exploring other novel uses, growth in the field of affective computing has deep implications for the future of human and computer interactions.