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Use Case: Emotional Recognition in the Library

Could we use emotional recognition technology to discover when students are “troubled” or “in need of help” and then make appropriate interventions to support them in their studies? With constant emotional recognition could we start to understand what a “troubled” user’s expression is.

What’s the issue?

Users of the library often need help and support when attempting to find resources, use resources or other aspects of their learning. Users may not know where to find resources, or even what resources may be useful for them at that point in time. They may be using resources, but unsure if they are appropriate or relevant. Students may be using the library as a study space and are having other trouble with aspects of their studies.

What are the current solutions?

Most solutions rely on the students seeking support or help from dedicated staff within the library, The implication is they know they can seek support and they can find a relevant member of staff to ask. There is also the assumption that the student knows they need help, they may not see that as a possible option.

Another solution is for library staff to “discover” which students are having issues and trying to guess which students need support.

Emotional recognition software could constantly scan users and using appropriate algorithms flag students that may need support and direct staff to them as quickly as possible.

Combined with facial recognition, details about the student could be provided to the staff to enable them to tailor and personalise the support the student needs.

What about ethical and other issues?

You can imagine the strong feelings that such a system could evoke, with the idea that users of the library are being constantly scanned and monitored. Consent to be part of a system would be critical, though often consent is not sought for non-technological solutions. Another challenge would be the concern that such scanning and data gathering may be used for other purposes outside support in the library.

Are there any current examples?

Emotion recognition and emotion analysis are being studied by companies and universities around the world, most are looking at the technology to improve marketing and effectiveness of video content.

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So how could it work?

Humans can already recognise emotions in variable abilities, any kind of system to scan and recognise emotion using technology could inform and advise staff faster and quicker. Enabling a rapid response to potential difficulties.

Software already exists that utilises artificial intelligence to predict “attitudes and actions based on facial expressions”.

The challenge will be ensuring staff have the appropriate interventions to hand having identified those students who may be have problems.

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