Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has acquired Emotient Inc., a San Diego-based facial expression recognition startup that uses artificial-intelligence technology to automatically analyze, measure and predict customer attitudes, interest and actions, reported The Wall Street Journal. Apple confirmed the acquisition, but deal terms were not disclosed.

Emotient was founded in 2012 and has raised $8 million from investors including Intel Capital and Seth Neiman, managing partner at Crosspoint Venture Partners. The company’s technology began in the academic world as the Machine Perception Lab at University of California, San Diego.

The company’s founders, Marni Bartlett, Marian Bartlett, Ian R. Fasel, Javier R. Movellan, and Josh Susskind, are widely regarded as spearheading the use of machine learning for facial expression analysis, a new category of natural user interface that is rapidly expanding as more companies seek to improve technology responsiveness and increase customer engagement. Its proprietary methodology sets the industry standard for accuracy and real-time delivery of facial expression data and analysis.

Attention, engagement, and emotion, are the factors that drive customer interest and action, says Emotient. “This is the currency of revenue growth and customer satisfaction, because emotions drive spending. These quantities have been measured only as guesses and indirect inferences. Until now.”

Uses for emotion recognition and analysis are as varied and expansive as the imagination of end users. Wherever there are cameras there can be video analysis of expressions, and an opportunity to learn about a person’s state of mind as they emotionally respond to marketing, product and service experiences.

Emotient is engaged in emotion detection and sentiment analysis based on facial expressions. The company is at the vanguard of a new wave of emotion analysis that will lead to a quantum leap in customer understanding and emotion-aware computing. Emotient’s cloud-based services deliver direct measurement of a customer’s unfiltered emotional response to ads, content, products and customer service or sales interactions. Emotient delivers this value quickly, affordably, and at scale. Across multiple industries, Fortune 500 companies and their market research partners are ideally suited to leverage emotion insights derived from facial expression analysis. The insights gained from Emotient give businesses the ability to make better decisions and accelerate their revenue growth.

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