Microsoft Patents AI Emotion Detection System for Xbox
Microsoft has filed a patent for AI technology that can detect and measure how people are feeling based on their voice and other signals. The patent focuses on giving Xbox games the ability to collect audio streams from voice chat and analyze the player’s emotions at that moment.
As voice chat becomes more popular for Xbox and other game systems, developers have had to grapple more with the potential issues of people with heightened emotions. The increasingly aggressive and sometimes threatening nature of these conversations helped prompt the pursuit of this tech, according to the patent. The technology combines audio and visual measurements to identify emotions, first setting a neutral speech profile of a user to have a baseline for comparison. Multiple sessions of a user’s audio can be compared to spot indications of anger, fear, disgust, and other negative emotions. The analysis can then be stored for future, quicker analysis.
The emotion of a player will be noted, and Microsoft could then start giving player’s reputation scores based on their emotions and other factors like blocks and complaints about the user. How those scores will affect players isn’t mentioned, but presumably, someone who is angry all the time might have a lower score and be excluded from certain gaming sessions, perhaps those with children.
Microsoft’s interest in boosting its chat capabilities and making them more welcoming reflects how important such interactions have become to the gaming world. Sony Interactive Entertainment partnered with Discord in the spring to upgrade social interactions on Sony PlayStation’s network for a similar purpose. Discord’s social audio and text-based chat will augment Sony’s existing tools, and Sony is investing an undisclosed sum and taking a minority stake in Discord as part of the deal. Voice has also become more central to the Xbox experience in other ways. Xbox owners have a unique option of asking Alexa to download games for the console by asking the voice assistant directly. The new feature is part of the Xbox Alexa skill previously introduced last month, but downloading games doesn’t require invoking the skill, just a subscription to Xbox Game Pass.
Microsoft isn’t alone in wanting to have a better handle on the question of aggressive gaming chat. Intel is developing a new voice AI tool to filter out offensive and abusive language during in-game voice chats. Unveiled at Intel’s GDS showcase, the new Bleep program applies the AI on Intel PC chips in real-time to detect and remove any slurs uttered by one player before another hears it. Voice technology startup Modulate created the ToxMod tool to do something similar. ToxMod can detect and flag problematic and toxic speech in real-time video game voice chat. ToxMod detects and alerts moderators when it hears racist slurs, threats, or anything else the developers want to know. The AI uses context and emotional indicators to distinguish when something said actually rises to the level of a problem.