EmotionTrac: Emotion recognition to select jurors

EmotionTrac analyzes facial expressions in real time

The software of facial recognition are becoming more and more important in daily life. The police use it to investigate crimes. Smartphones and computers use it to secure data. Businesses use it to provide more personalized and targeted solutions and experiences to their customers. Even the bar examiners used it to perform remote testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But this technology is controversial and not without criticism. Questions remain about its accuracy, especially when it comes to recognizing minority faces. Several cities even have forbidden some facial recognition apps.

EmotionTrac claims to offer a different approach. Launched in 2020 by Aaron Itzkowitz, its CEO, EmotionTrac uses the front camera of smartphones and tablets to analyze a user’s facial expressions in real time on videos or images to determine if the user is experiencing positive feelings, negative or neutral. A law firm can then use this information to design more effective advertising campaigns or determine which arguments will appeal to potential jurors.

In this podcast, Itzkowitz talks with ABA Journal Legal Affairs Editor Victor Li about how EmotionTrac works and how lawyers can use it to their advantage.

EmotionTrac’s facial expression coding system quickly identifies 100 points on a person’s face and analyzes changes in their behaviors to determine the emotion they are feeling, Li says. the subjects.

Apple has filed an application for patent for similar software using facial expression coding to assess emotions. Hundreds of companies around the world are working on emotion-decoding technology, with the goal of teaching computers to predict human behavior.

Initially, Itkowitz released software capable of monetizing the engagement, measured by the attention paid to a screen, of consumers watching advertising content.

It was only a short step to create a software as a service to assess the basic emotions that cross people’s faces when watching a political ad campaign, and from there to assess the emotions of panels engaged by lawyers before a trial.

According to Itzkowitz, judges are not prepared to allow the use of cameras in courtrooms for this type of activity, but the use of panels — surrogates for the people ultimately chosen as jurors — is common practice.

Firms can study how a real jury is likely to react to opening and closing statements and evidence, consistent with the lawyer’s performance. Rather than guessing what the members of the jury are thinking, he says, companies can detect the reactions of each of them, even if they only last a few hundredths of a second.

Itkowitz says about 50 attorneys nationwide use EmotionTrac’s service in civil and criminal courts, noting that like many other professions, the legal profession is slowly adapting to new technologies.

According to him, his algorithm cannot be biased by gender or race, as it only takes into account facial points that are common to humans.

Not everyone is so optimistic about this point.

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EmotionTrac: Emotion recognition to select jurors

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