Yahoo wants to make messaging more intimate by adding true emotion to emails and texts
Wed 25 Mar 2015
Researchers at Yahoo Mail are developing ways to employ sensors in smartphones and other wearable devices to change the way we communicate emotions and sensations via text and email messages.
States of mind and stress levels are the types of intimate emotion Yahoo is looking to transmit with the launch of the new service. Sentiment has been found to be particularly hard to pick up on across email and text, and messages are often misinterpreted. Yahoo hopes to solve this problem by taking advantage of technology already available in mobile devices, including heart rate monitors, orientation sensors and speed detectors.
“We’re only really using three or four sensors properly now,” said Yahoo Mail chief Jeff Bonaparte.
“With more sensors, we could pretty soon understand 1,000 different points of information from an email. I want to know what someone else is experiencing right now,” he continued, adding that “messaging will go in that direction […] far more emotionally connecting.”
However, many have raised concern that this software could lead to sticky situations with users betraying their true emotions involuntarily.
In an interview with The Times, Bonaforte said that the technology could for example direct a smartwatch or fitness band to pulse when stress levels peak. He also suggested a smartphone could cool in your hand if you receive a message from someone in a cold location.
“If my wife was emailing me about going to the doctor, should my watch indicate that her blood pressure is higher?” he said. “Messaging should get more intimate – that’s what we strive for.”
A new feature launching next month with the AppleWatch plays with this potential. Digital Touch will allow users to record their heart rate and send it to their connections. The recipient’s smartwatch will constrict to let them know the data has been received.