A Fitbit For Your Emotions: Creepy or Revolutionary?


Emotion sensing tech is getting sophisticated. Startups are investing in products that use biometric data, like speech, heart rate, or even facial expressions, to detect your mood.

  • Spire Health, which monitors breathing patterns to determine tension, calm, or focus, just raised $38M.
  • Reflect Innovation, an Israel-based startup that can track users’ stress and emotional state, secured $3M in seed earlier this year.
  • Sonde Health launched Sonde Mental Fitness in October, which can evaluate mental well-being using vocal biomarkers.

Beyond other upstarts like Sentio Solutions, Upmood, and EmotiBit, Big Tech also wants a piece of the $37B emotion tech pie:

  • Apple is working with UCLA on developing iPhone sensors that can diagnose depression and cognitive decline.
  • Amazon’s Halo health tracking bracelet incorporates a “Tone” feature that can analyze a wearer’s “energy and positivity.”
  • Meta’s (Facebook parent company) upcoming VR headset, Cambria, will be able to sense emotion and transmit it into the “metaverse.”

And, earlier this year, Spotify received a US patent on tech that can listen to your speech, read your emotions, and recommend songs or ads based on sentiment.

Mind-body connection. Looking past the knee-jerk reactions to “auto-tune for human emotion,” scientists are discovering how closely tethered our minds are to our bodies. A key aspect of our mental health, emotions are integral to our holistic well-being.

If that’s so, leveraging tech to monitor our emotional health, just as we do for our physical health, is a logical extension.

Sonde Health’s voice-based tech, essentially an early-warning system for depression, could help those suffering from the disorder gain context on triggers/behaviors that lead to depressive episodes — an invaluable, if not life-saving, tool.

Going broader, imagine a wearable, integrated into a comprehensive platform, that could detect higher levels of stress or anxiety in the user and suggest changes to sleep, diet, or exercise to improve mood. In other words, a boon for the high-performance lifestyle.

Punchline: Given existing infrastructures of giants like Apple or Amazon, integrating emotion tracking could unify mental, physical, and behavioral health into a single ecosystem that revolutionizes our overall well-being.

An important caveat, the right steps must be taken to steward privacy and data use. Further, despite leaps in innovation, emotion sensing tech is still in very early stages, with questions on its accuracy and real concerns of the potential for discrimination.

As the industry addresses these issues, that leaves plenty of time for consumers to overcome the initial “creepy” factor (the initial sentiment for fitness tracking). Down the line, emotion sensing tech is shaping up to be a market with massive potential.

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