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As brick-and-mortar retailers fight to stay alive during the rise of online shopping, tactics such as facial-expression recognition are gaining popularity. San Diego-based Emotient just raked in $6 million to continue the emotion analysis spree.

Emotient wants to help retailers use its emotion-tracking and analysis technology to gain more accurate and real-time data about their shoppers’ interactions with merchandise, salespeople, and the store. Looking at a shopper’s emotional reaction to items or people could help them optimize marketing and shopping experiences — and ultimately increase purchases.

While the need for this sort of technology in retail stores and the possible “creepiness” factor it could bring to shoppers’ experience is debatable, Emotient has managed to develop its technology quite impressively. It can detect and track the seven facial expressions of primary emotions (joy, surprise, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, and contempt), overall sentiments (positive, neutral,and negative), and more advanced emotions such as frustration and confusion. It also detects 19 elementary facial muscle movements.

“We are focusing initially on the retail market to deliver a real-time, aggregate view of customer sentiment — a powerful measure designed to help retailers and brands increase sales,” said Ken Denman, Emotient’s chief executive officer,  in a statement.

Emotient seems to be committed to developing their technology as it is planning to use the new funds toward the Emotient API and to further develop products for specific markets such as retail and health  care.

It could also likely utilize the funds toward its new Sentiment Analysis app for Google Glass that it announced last month. The app supposedly helps retailers offer better customer service through emotion aggregation.

Handbag, LLC, which former Crosspoint general partner Seth Neiman created, led the round. Emotient’s first instutional investor, Intel Capital, also contributed to this second round, which closed in December.

Emotient has now raised a total of $8 million, including this new round and its initial incubation financing. Marian Bartlett, Ian R. Fasel, and Javier R. Movellan (all Ph.Ds) cofounded the company in 2012.


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