Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now in Washington, DC.
New technology that can detect a person's mood based solely on speech patterns could provide meeting planners useful insights.
The 600 market research professionals who attended the Insight Innovation Exchange (IIEx) meeting in Atlanta in June were among the first to try out a new technology that may help meeting planners better get into their attendees' minds.
Developed by Tel Aviv-based Beyond Verbal, the technology listens to a person's voice and—without knowing what the person is talking about, the context, or even the language being spoken—gets insights into the speaker's mood, attitude, and what Beyond Verbal executives call "emotional personality" in real time.
The company didn't set out to create a conference tool. But after it launched a free app called Moodies in early 2013, its technology began to get noticed by a wider audience, including an IIEx speaker who contacted organizers and then worked with Beyond Verbal to produce the first real-time conference emotions study.
At various times during the event, Beyond Verbal staff asked attendees about their impressions of the conference and recorded their comments using Moodies. With a minimum 20-second response, the app could quickly analyze the speaker's tone of voice to determine which of 11 moods it represented, such as fatigued, anxious, enthusiastic, or angry.
Organizers gathered 1,500 voice segments, and the findings were published in the GreenBook market research blog. Among them: Creativity and enthusiasm were highest in the afternoon, and attendees were more likely to be aggressive and confrontational before lunch.
In another possible conference application, speakers can use Moodies to analyze their own voice during their presentations to help them determine if they are conveying the right mood.
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Hearing Voices."]