Pictet/The Economist

Pictet/The Economist

That thinking feeling

Despite social media and our always-on technology connecting us with each other in more ways than ever before, recent studies have shown that technology seems to contribute to feelings of isolation rather than social connectedness.

A study led by Brian Primack, director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh, found that heavy users of social media felt socially isolated at three times the rate of less extensive users of a variety of social media platforms. Scrolling through countless pictures of our friends’ polished and perfect lives no doubt contributes to this increased sense of isolation, but social media is also guilty of limiting the time we have available to build real emotional relationships.

But what if technology could sense and accurately convey our emotions, beyond simple clicks to indicate likes or the use of emojis? What if technology allowed us to interact in ways that were much closer to the ways we do in real life?

That was the question which Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of Affectiva, a pioneer in emotion-sensing technology based in Boston, set out to answer.

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