We all know that it is sometimes difficult to understand the intent of an instant message without hearing the tone or seeing a person’s facial expressions.  This is particularly difficult for sarcastic people who have to constantly rely on adding smiley face emoticons to the ends of their sentences.

Automatically determining a user’s mood is something we’ve always heard as being important for Windows Live Messenger but knew that the technology was years away from being ready.  In WLM 2009, we even took a nice first step introducing Dynamic Photos, which let you manually associate a photo with an emoticon/mood.

We’re happy to announce that due to the great breakthroughs from Microsoft Research, we have an alpha version working that monitors your real-time physiological state and translates that into a mood (happy, sad, anxious, etc), such that you would never have to enter an emoticon again.  At the core of this technology is the patented Human Attitude Heuristic Algorithm, which uses simple instruments, such as a body heat monitor, webcam and keypad pressure sensor to automatically determine your mood and appropriately insert emoticons/phrases directly into your IM conversations… saving you both time and energy.

Here’s an example that currently works on the alpha prototype we have in the lab.  Using facial tracking technology, Messenger would know that you were laughing at a joke and appropriately place an  emoticon into the conversation.  If you stuck out your tongue, we could track that and type a for you.  If you laughed out loud, your laugh would be picked up by the mic on the webcam and immediately the text ‘lol’ would be inserted.  If your laugh exceeded the threshold of 95 decibels (~Subway Train at 200ft), you would see ‘LOL!’ instead.  If you fell out of your chair and were laughing hysterically on the ground… we would insert ‘ROFLMAO’… and so on.

With the special keypad sensor we can also measure the speed and pressure you exert while typing, which can translate into a relaxed or angry state.  The sensor pad has not yet been integrated but you can expect that we’ll have a release with full Automatic Mood Detection support, by early April 2010.

Hope you are as excited as I am about this new feature! <- (this was inserted automatically)  Let us know what you think.

[Note added: April 3rd]
Happy April Fools Day!  It was great to see the light hearted responses and also to see that this is a feature that some people might actually like. :)  From now on, only real features will be discussed… until maybe next April 1st. ;)


Windows Live Messenger Team

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