EMOTICASH: FINANCE WITH FEELING

28/03/2018

For our second The Studio Reports project, we launch Emoticash, our owned proprietary currency that brings your feelings into the equation. Read to the end for the chance to pocket some.

In the age of mass surveillance where every street corner is manned by a security camera and every financial transaction is tracked by dozens of algorithms, consumers have long grown used to being watched. Many view the information exchange between citizen and state that underpins our modern surveillance system as a necessary evil for public safety.

But one area where, until only a few years ago, the transactional nature of surveillance had not yet been fully explored was in the growing Emotional Detection and Recognition (EDR) technology market – the tracking of human emotions and reactions in industries where such data is vital, for example retail, hospitality and healthcare.

Using EDR technology, brands and businesses are now able to harvest the raw data of their customers’ emotive responses to their products and services. But little has been asked of how customers would be reimbursed for this new degree of data collection. Put another way, if they’re already paying for goods and services with cash, but are providing valuable emotional and affective information on top - how should they be compensated?

First introduced by Superimpose Studio, Emoticash (EMOT) aims to answer some of these questions. An evolution of the algorithm employed by popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), Emoticash seeks to reimburse consumers with spendable currency whenever their emotional information is harvested during an everyday transaction.

Emoticash integrates the principles of EDR technology into its algorithm by rewarding consumers for providing authentic emotional responses and reactions to their brand experiences. Each time an Emoticash customer engages with a brand or business and provides authentic emotional feedback about their service through an EDR interface, the Emoticash algorithm rewards them with Emoticash currency which can then be exchanged for self-care activities and products such as Gong Baths, Yoga and Meditation retreats.

“Mining the untapped reserve of human emotion”

At the core of Emoticash is an aim to restrike the balance of power in the modern surveillance state, placing a price upon the information that many members of the public unwittingly provide to companies countless times a day. If brands and businesses are being empowered by the information they collect from their customers, then customers should be empowered in turn, with the provision of spendable currency as the simplest way of achieving this balance - creating a mutually beneficial transaction.

But achieving this balance is not just as simple as monetary exchange. Multiple studies have shown an increase in mental health issues influenced by the current digital sphere. There is a mounting pressure of an expected ‘openness’ to share all details of individual’s life online. Often, this is filtered and refined, extruding a mirage of perfection and fake emotions to the world, when the reality is far from glamorous. The more data brands freely extract and learn from consumers to perfect their targeting, and to develop superior product, the world starts to skew towards an ‘idealistic’ lifestyle altogether. Brands hold more responsibility over the populations’ mental health than it originally seemed.

With Emoticash dedicated to giving back in a meaningful, impactful way that is not only beneficial to brands insight, but also the wellbeing of consumers, the rewards users receive after accruing a certain amount of currency are all focused on improving the emotional health. Audiences are becoming more and more open minded to find ways to improve their mental state - according to a survey conducted Dignity Health, 64% of millennials claim they practice dedicated activities to achieve mindfulness, such as yoga and meditation.

In recent years, EDR has proven to be one of the fastest-growing sectors in the tech industry thanks to its broad range of potential applications across multiple industries. Realeyes, an EDR tech company with offices in the US and Europe, works with numerous big brands and film production companies to produce “emotionally intelligent” visual media. Their proprietary software is able to identify the affective qualities of different media and even help in creating media to target specific demographic groups by metrics such as age or gender.

Similarly, the Boston-based company Affectiva now boasts a “massive emotion database”, built upon over 6 million scanned faces from over 80 different countries, gathered from users watching films and television shows or performing everyday activities. As well as facial emotion tracking software, Affectiva is currently beta-testing software that will be able to track emotions in speech recordings, as well as the gender of the person speaking.

Numerous companies, big and small, have already commercialised EDR technology in exciting ways. As early as 2017, fast food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken experimented with EDR technology at one of their Chinese locations, allowing customers to pay for their meal by smiling, whilst the Chinese police have already been using eyeglasses with integrated facial recognition technology for several years. During the 2016 US presidential elections, Hillary Clinton’s campaign team used EDR technology to track responses to the Democratic candidate’s speeches on the campaign trail.

‘We believe that consumers should be rewarded for sharing their emotional data, and your emotional wellbeing is at the core of any transaction made. It takes 26 muscles to smile, or 62 to frown. We accept either as payment.’

Though EDR technology is yet to achieve mass industry saturation, the development is already providing promising results. The technology that Realeyes uses to gauge an advertisement’s “emotional intelligence” is able to identify commercials which will produce a sales lift with an accuracy of 75%, while Affectiva’s Software Development Kit (SDK) has been implemented in a number of children’s learning apps, as well as being used by popular gif-hosting website Giphy to attach emotional qualities to different images.

Superimpose Studio has also begun to see positive responses to Emoticash. Still in beta-testing, early reports show that Emoticash has proven particularly popular in retail and service industries, where consumers’ emotional responses have become increasingly valuable to businesses.

Aggregate feedback from Emoticash partners indicates a 17% increase in consumer engagement with brands through EDR feedback interfaces as opposed to traditional feedback forms and questionnaires. On the consumer side, similar uptakes in performance and engagement have been recorded; Emoticash users, on average, engage with brands and businesses 13% more than they did previously, and have shown an increase in general satisfaction with their consumer experiences. 

Early responses to Emoticash suggest a promising new avenue for interaction between businesses and consumers is emerging, providing consumers with greater purchasing power, and businesses with vital data which will help them to evaluate their business practices and provide better services to their customers. 

WE ALL HAVE OUR OWN REALITIES

The Studio Reports is an open-minded Superimpose Studio project that embraces future realities and creative contribution to consumer culture.

Submission of new ideas to hello@superimpose-studio.com