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Your Computer, Your Silver-Tongued Sidekick

Did you know people increasingly rely on technology to communicate with each other, with 144.8 billion emails1, 23.6 text messages2, and 2.5 billion social media posts3 sent each day? How well people express themselves and connect to others in these short exchanges influences relationships, wellbeing, and professional success. Senior research scientist Margaret Morris and her colleagues at Intel Labs are developing innovative technologies that analyze communication dynamics and give feedback to help users communicate more effectively with others.

Wonder why a love interest hasn't replied to an email? Has a work negotiation been complicated by miscommunication? Today's technologies enable us to connect with people, anytime, anywhere. But wouldn't it be great if they helped us communicate more effectively and improve relationships?

Margaret Morris, an Intel Labs clinical psychologist, works with computer and software architects, social scientists, and designers to find novel ways to meet people’s social, emotional, and psychological needs via technology.  She envisions a world where technologies incorporate psychological knowledge and social wisdom to enhance the human experience.

For example, Verbalucce is an app that profiles the linguistic styles of individuals in a user's network and provides feedback to adapt communication styles and increase rapport with those parties.

Say Sophie sends an effusive e-mail to a love interest after a first date, but receives a perfunctory reply. Is the relationship over before it's begun? Not necessarily. Verbalucce may suggest that Sophie try a more playful approach, imitating the communication style of a friend, a celebrity, or even a movie character to engage the other party.

Through this process, Verbalucce provides users with data that contribute to the self-investigation and social learning intrinsic to development. 

In time, Morris visualizes a future where socially intelligent computing devices will provide interpersonal assistance, offering real-time feedback and advice in all kinds of personal and professional exchanges. Intelligence could be drawn not just from users' data, but from analysis of communication across roles and cultures.

When psychological knowledge and social wisdom are integrated into system design, the possibilities are virtually limitless. Lest you worry, however, that devices will one day communicate with each other in our stead, Morris assures us that Verbalucce offers analytics to help users reflect on and improve their communication skills, rather than speak for them.

Like C3PO with a Ph.D. in psychology, such technology could be your silver-tongued sidekick.

Watch the TED Talk

Margaret Morris at TED@Intel

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. In this video, Margaret Morris talks about integrating technology with psychology to connect on a different level.

Intel Labs

Intel Labs

Intel researchers work to identify challenges and develop technological innovations today for a better tomorrow in enterprise, consumer, and academic research.

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Using common senses

Intel® RealSense™ technology takes perceptual computing to the next level by understanding sensory input and movement-supported platforms.

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1. Source: http://mashable.com/2012/11/27/email-stats-infographic/

2. Source: http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/03/tech/mobile/sms-text-message-20/

3. Source: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-08-23/facebooks-is-bigger-than-yours