It’s going to be emotional

It’s going to be emotional

Solo is an emotional radio that heralds the future of a friendlier, more playful Artificial Intelligence. Through exploring the creative, interpretive and emotional potential of AI, Solo connects us to our emotions through mood inspired radio.

 

19.09.16 | Research

 

Born from a week­ long design sprint exploring the shift towards a more human AI, Solo combines facial feature recognition with music valence to read the nuance of expression and match tracks to your current mood. Sensing movement, Solo draws you in with its playful antenna. As you approach it takes your photo. It then sends that photo to a Microsoft API that analyses features and sends that information back again as an emotional breakdown with values measuring your happiness, sadness and anger. Solo translates these figures into a valence rating that corresponds with Spotify’s track valence ratings. Solo then plays the track it thinks you want to hear most. Kind of like a mix CD from a friend with great taste.

 

Solo combines facial feature recognition with music valence to read the nuance of expression and match tracks to your current mood.

One AI issue Solo highlights ­- and one we predict will improve as algorithms increase in sophistication -­ is atypical feature recognition. AI has a lot to learn about our aesthetic individuality, and Solo helps that conversation, because when it gets it wrong, it’s through the highly forgivable medium of music.

Through Solo, we’ve learned that the technological possibilities for designing AI through human characteristics (such as emotion) are endless. Solo instills empathy in AI, and in turn predicts the future of designing AI as one that embraces uses beyond the data­-driven or servile, towards the human. Solo opens up the conversation on how technologies can be broken down and mean something to people, not just the tech industry. 

 

When you try Solo, you think not only about how technology is changing, but more importantly, how its relationship with us is changing.
Mike Shorter, Senior Creative Technologist

AI is coming. As it becomes entrenched deeper and deeper into our everyday lives, isn’t it right that it should work to understand us on an emotional level, and use that understanding in playful and engaging ways? We think so. While the idea of a mood ­dependent radio may seem simple, we knew the challenge of incorporating human characteristics (here, the fallibility of musical selection based on emotion) would be significant. The solution or marker of success was never meant to be the most mood accurate song, but AI designed through a forgiving, emotional, human framework.

Solo was first exhibited at London Design Festival in September 2016, with shows at The Good Home in The Digital Catapult Centre and the Digital Design Weekend in the V&A.

Solo opens up the conversation on how technologies can be broken down and mean something to people, not just the tech industry.
Mike Shorter, Senior Creative Technologist

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