TAWNY at the Web Summit: SME senses bright future for emotional Artificial Intelligence
Driving a car that knows when you need to take a break, or using software at work that reads your stress levels could lead to significant improvements in terms of safety and productivity. With assistance from the Enterprise Europe Network, European SME Tawny has demonstrated how emotionally intelligent products and services can bring real benefits to our lives.
Through measuring physiological signals like heart rate and skin resistance and with the help of machine learning, TAWNY has developed software capable of recognising emotional levels and stress. It is this perceptive learning ability, says TAWNY CEO Dr Michael Bartl, that makes the software intelligent.
“In the future, a car fitted with this artificial intelligence (AI) would be able to sense if you are feeling aggressive or overburdened and adapt the driving assistance system accordingly,” he says. "Or in the work environment, it will be able to tell when you are most productive.”
The TAWNY system has already been tested in specific situations. For example, trials on a car production line helped to prevent occupational accidents by anticipating mistakes, while a call centre software predicted whether a salesman would make a successful pitch based purely on physiological signals. “AI is not a product as such; rather it is an installed service that collects data generated by products,” explains Dr Bartl.
TAWNY was launched in April 2017 as a spin-off from German innovation leader Hyve, which aims to identify and support disruptive digital technologies. From the start, TAWNY has worked closely with the Enterprise Europe Network. “Where the Network really made a difference was in finding a business coach, which was not easy in the field of emotional AI,” says Dr Bartl. “We’ve spent many days talking to the coach about our vision and preparing applications, and thanks to this collaboration we have since found an investor. We are ready to enter a new era of how humans interact with machines.”
While AI has been talked up as an indispensable future technology, there have not been many proven applications so far. This is where TAWNY believes it has the edge. “We see that for many clients, TAWNY is a way of developing their products of the future with an intelligent digital layer that they currently miss. We are promoting this idea of ‘TAWNY inside’ for smart products.”
With 6 new contracts in the pipeline and strong ongoing collaboration with AI talent from Europe’s top academic institutions, the company’s future looks bright. “We have an opportunity here to be a big player in this field,” says Dr Bartl.
According to the latest data from the Enterprise Europe Network – based on survey data from businesses using the Network's services in Germany – in the coming year, 56% of SMEs who internationalise expect to increase their turnover, 30% expect to create jobs and 46% expect to increase their market share.
The Enterprise Europe Network is the world’s largest support network for small and medium-sized businesses with international ambitions.