Hardware & Software

Mood Rings to Mood Ringtones: Microsoft’s New Smartphone Technology

July 17, 2013

Ashley Neu

Moodscope LogoRemember when having a mood ring was pretty much the coolest thing ever? Even if you didn’t have one, it was still cool to think that some little hunk of metal and a heat-sensing stone could alert your friends when you were happy, stressed or upset.

Whether you believe mood rings actually work or not, it’s always nice having friends try to cheer us up when something is bothering us. And I’m willing to bet that many of us consider our Smartphone to be one of our best friends, (we certainly spend enough time with it). Well, Microsoft is combining these concepts in its new Smartphone technology that can detect your mood.

That’s right, this mood-sensing software can detect how you’re feeling and then share it with your social media network.

The Mood Sensing Technology

MoodScope, as it’s called, discerns your mood based on how the phone is being used at any given point in time. By doing so, it can track which apps you use when you’re feeling down or when you’re feeling happy and then automatically send its discovery to Facebook and other social media sites.

Microsoft says that the goal of MoodScope is not to predict your mood perfectly every time, but to make communication through social media more lifelike.

The researchers point out that people don’t always directly relay to their friends what mood they are in, but facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language play a distinctive role in mood detection during face-to-face conversations.

So why not carry that insight over to social media? If you’re mad about something, wouldn’t it be great for people to just know that and leave you alone for a little while? Of if you’re stressed out, wouldn’t it be nice for a friend to take you to get some sugar-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, non-fat, low sodium, Greek-strained frozen yogurt?

Researchers at Microsoft seem to think so.

The Study

The researchers collected Smartphone data from 32 participants over a two month period; this included phone calls, text messages, emails, web browsing and application usage patterns.

The participants first logged their mood on a five-point scale through a “mood journaling” iPhone app created by Microsoft. The app generated a bouncing emoticon that would change both bounce speed and facial expression to record activity level as well as mood.

The participants were asked to log their mood every three hours, four times per day. By doing this, their phone would then begin to track which applications they were using and the manner in which they were using them during different moods. The phone then used this data to learn how a person was feeling based on how he or she was using the phone.

The software was able to initially detect the user’s mood with 66% accuracy; after two months of continued use that number rose to 93%, reports Microsoft.

Most of the participants said the app was easy to use and that it would be something they would use in the future.

The Benefits

Not only is this system easy to use but some people are saying this technology could be very useful to have in real life situations. Microsoft researchers point out that technology such as this may come in handy before you talk to your boss. Knowing when he or she is upset could prevent you from saying the wrong thing or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But in a more business-focused light, the researchers say that third party applications such as Netflix or Spotify could use information about your mood to better predict what you might want to watch or listen to at any moment.

For the time being, the software is only in the prototype phase and not available to the public yet. But should it make it to the market, Microsoft says that it would surely change the way we communicate digitally, and considers it essential to making mobile devices more personal. 

subscribe by email

Stay Ahead