By: Ashley McManus, Global Marketing Manager; featuring E. L. Mont, Founder & CEO of Vidii
Online communications have shifted dramatically in recent years altering the way in which we communicate with each other. Bland texts and emails are soon becoming a thing of the past, as rich communication apps are emerging to add a more dynamic layer of interaction that can get lost behind words on a screen. What if that next app you were using to talk to your father, sister, or spouse was emotion-enabled so that the conversation was able to fully communicate how you were feeling to the recipient?
Vidii is a chat app out to do just that, taking communication to a level beyond emojis alone. It is the first AI driven messaging platform, which allows users to chat using their favorite movie and TV clips in addition to the usual text. The AI incorporated into the app makes Vidii one of the first chat apps to enable emotion recognition. This allows the app to identify emotional responses to video content and use this information to enhance user experiences. The keyboard integrates into any app that allows posting of videos. Vidii was recently featured in Fast Company, and is available for download on the iTunes store as well as on Google Play for Android.
What’s the pitch for Vidii?
If you’ve ever wanted to send more than an emoji or gif to express exactly how you feel, Vidii lets you do just that using short video clips from movies, television and the Internet. Vidii is a messaging platform that lets you say more than just words.
What does Vidii do and how does it work?
Vidii is a new kind of messaging platform designed especially for people who love movies, television, and videos. It is the first AI driven messaging platform which allows users to chat using their favorite movie and TV clips in addition to the usual text. The videos are like GIFs, but enhanced with full sound and HD image quality along with the ability to directly stream or purchase the original full length content from a content distributor.
The AI incorporated into the app makes Vidii the first chat app to enable emotional recognition. This allows the app to identify emotional responses to video content and use this information to enhance user experiences. The Vidii platform also includes a keyboard app to be released soon. The keyboard integrates into any app that allows posting of videos.
Where did you get the idea to build it?
Three of us founded Vidii, and we went to college together. Like all friends, we enjoy many of the same movies and shows, especially those that make us laugh. A couple years ago, we found ourselves chatting more frequently than we had in previous years.
In our text conversation, we were reminding each other of funny lines from things we had seen years prior or just the day before -- some movie quote that lightened the moment and even made us literally bust out laughing.
Then it hit us. Instead of having to always type a quote and sometimes what show or character the quote came from, what if instead one could send the actual scene from the movie being referenced. We thought that would be pretty cool! And thus, the idea for Vidii was born.
What role does emotion and emotion technology play in the concept of your app?
One of the biggest challenges we discovered was our beta users did not know what to say next. More specifically, when they would receive a Vidii, the only way they would think to respond would be with a "lol" so we thought it would be great if we could build some type of recommendation engine that would help users with sending a more creative response.
As we built we quickly realized that understanding the emotional level of the conversation would greatly enhance the engine’s ability to come up with and generate better suggestions.
How did you arrive at Affectiva's technology to help achieve your Vision?
After becoming familiar with the Affectiva technology offerings and their SDK, it was a simple decision; one that made sense for our product development and improving our users' experience. It was the most powerful in our opinion and easiest to use.
Additionally, the support we received was exceptional. By using the SDK, we were able to focus on the recommendation engine rather than building a method for interpreting the emotions of users. Essentially, this allowed us to use the SDK to help with real-time inputs while we focused on the development of our technology for how to interpret and respond.
How do you use Affectiva?
We’ve integrated the SDK into our application so that when a user views a Vidii video, their camera measures their emotional reaction to it. That information is used to generate an emoji read receipt sent to the sender letting them know how the viewer reacted to the clip, but then also is used as input into our patented emotional recommendation engine. This information along with other information is used to provide suggestions of what to say next based on the conversational and emotional context of the conversation.
8) Which features of Vidii are you most excited about?
Definitely the emotional component of Vidii. We are the first messenger to enhance text conversations this way and really feel it an interesting area for the future of chat. Successfully integrating the ability to understand emotions as part of the conversation is really exciting given it provides context to communication not incorporated in prior technologies and will be very helpful whether as a fun chat app or in other aspects of artificial intelligence being merged with communications.
What is the next step for your app?
As I mentioned we are now launching a keyboard which compliments the messenger. It allows users to access Vidii’s outside of the messenger. Next, we will be integrating our chatbot built on our chatbot platform which will allow users to have conversations with our bot which can use Vidii’s to respond. It should make for a new and entertaining chat experience.
Do you have any other advice for those looking to build similar apps of their own?
Messengers can be pretty complex depending on the features you want to add and there are a number of them to compete with. For platforms like Vidii, the layers of complexity center around the incorporation of video in a new way. With this in mind, I recommend to others they have a clear understanding of: 1) the value an emotional component will deliver to the overall user experience; 2) focus on that delivery; and 3) fail fast--confirm that failures and success as soon as possible. This way you don’t stretch your resources to thin and stay focused on what is most important to your success.
About E. L. Mont
E.L. Mont is a twenty-two year technology veteran with significant startup and large company experience in marketing strategy, product development, finance, and operations, having worked at and founded companies including Apple, TvChic, and JP Morgan. He is currently a co-founder of Vidicons, an artificial intelligence company focused on the convergence of communication and emotional AI. He holds degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from Northwestern University and earned his M.B.A. at the University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business where he was a Haas Fellow.