How Emotional AI is Changing the Mental Healthcare Profile?

by April 8, 2020

Humans have often debated how futuristic AI’s emotional range be. Will it understand the basic conscience and existential questions man finds bothersome and worrying himself about? Or will it have normal selective feelings of happiness, sadness, envy, anger, fear? These doubts come in a spectrum relatable to movies like Her and WALL-E.

While in former, the protagonist falls in love with an intelligent computer operating system personified through a female voice called Samantha who does not reciprocate the same, leading to heartbreak, the later ends up restarting life on Earth after facing a challenging journey guided by its emotions and wit to comprehend things around him.

But things now provide a bit of clarity on the picture of Emotional AI. Also called as facial coding, Emotional recognition technology. The field dates back to 1990 when psychology professors John D Mayer and Peter Salovey coined the term emotional intelligence. Fast forward to the current age, Emotional AI has countless possibilities and scope to assist humans in everyday life. From businesses, it can capture peoples’ emotional reactions in real-time. It can decode facial expressions, analyze voice patterns, greet cheerfully, scan e-mails for the tone of language, and measure neurological immersion levels. It helps autistic kids identify other people’s emotions. Using computer vision technology AI can monitor the driver’s emotional state and level of drowsiness. In the workplace environment, it can help to analyze the stress and anxiety levels of employees who have very demanding jobs.

Of all the fields, emotional AI has interesting potentials in the medical sector, in ways of revolutionizing it.


AI as Medical Assistants

Emotion AI can free up doctors to work more with their patients by analyzing patient records and generating reports based on the data, handling administrative tasks, and even assisting with diagnosis or intervention. This can help patients to have better and customized treatment as per their needs, medical conditions and preference without any necessity of divulging the same to the examiner. The software can help patients with mental health issues by using voice analysis. It can also address and regulate their emotions better even when they are under a severely stressful or traumatic state.

One such application is Affectiva. It uses a webcam to measure a person’s heart rate without wearing a sensor by tracking color changes in the person’s face, which pulses each time the heartbeats.


AI as Emotional Support

A ‘nurse bot’ not only reminds older patients on long-term medical programs to take their medication but also converses with them every day to monitor their overall wellbeing. Along with this, they make sure to interact with people with recent accident history or depression to elevate their mood levels. Moreover, it gives a definitive picture of how a patient responds to new medications.


AI as Chatbot

In a society where mental illness is stigmatized and considered as a taboo, seeking medical help is challenging for people. AI helps in closing this gap by chatbots where physical accessibility is not possible. Researchers have discovered that people are comfortable in talking to avatars than a therapist. Not only that, but these chatbots also allow people to talk about their issues any time of the day or night, anywhere around the world.

These chatbots are fed with mock transcripts from counselors, physicians that allow them to deal with a wide array of issues. Some of the chatbots offer either free or low monthly subscription fees. This can help tremendously to people with lower incomes.

Mood tracking apps like Woebot, which is created by a team of Stanford psychologists and AI experts, uses brief daily chat conversations, mood tracking, curated videos, and word games to help people manage mental health.


Using AI to Identify At-Risk Person

Social Media Networking Sites like Facebook use AI to monitor posts to detect signs of a user’s depression. This could spot the disorder three months before those people were formally diagnosed by health care providers. An fMRI scan used AI to analyze brain scans and spot likely cases to have Bipolar Disorder and major depressive disorder with 92.4% accuracy.

Adopting measures to deal with the increasing number of mental health problems is the need of the hour. When a person finds themselves under excruciating strain and pressure or is a victim of communal negligence existing in a society where having depression or any mental disorder is met by raised eye-brows of contempt and ignorance, it can harm them to unknowable ends. According to a paper published, one in seven Indians were affected by mental disorders of varying severity in 2017. If the inclusion of emotional AI can provide them with much needed help and lighten the country’s medical expenses, it is beneficial to invest in this technology as soon as possible.