EmoSPARK: Your New Artificially Intelligent ‘Digital Friend’

The future is here, and it brought a cube-shaped friend for you. The EmoSpark from EmoShape is an AI console with an “emotional processing unit” that allows the EmoSpark to respond to stimuli with emotions.

What are the uses for such an intelligent cube? According to EmoShape, the EmoSpark’s ability to simulate the eight primary emotions (anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust and joy) allows it to use empathy in order to interact with humans and learn how to please them.

As creepy as this sounds, it’s not the first stage of preparation for an alien/robot invasion in which humanity will be enslaved by machines, or at least it’s probably not (BUT IT MIGHT BE). The EmoSpark is a media console that uses a camera to capture a person’s facial expressions; it then processes these expressions until it has a good idea of someone’s personality and how they express their emotions, and uses these responses to learn about a person’s likes and dislikes with regard to music and other types of entertainment, allowing it to rate media, such as music or YouTube videos, for you based on your “personalized emotional response.”



The EmoSpark’s “emotions” generate sound and light waves; when you watch the cube’s “eye” in an app or on your TV screen, you can see color changes expressing those emotions, according to the cube’s Indiegogo page.

EmoShape, a company based in New York and London, says the EmoSpark is small enough to fit in the palm of a person’s hand, and describes it as a “digital friend.” It’s powered by Android and has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities; users can interact with the cube via voice or remotely with a video call.

EmoSpark’s app lets the user use a smart device to witness the intensity and nuances of its emotional status in real time at a distance, monitoring when and how a new experience modifies and informs the cube,” says EmoShape on its website.

As the cube collects experience over time, it becomes capable of “feeling” things like pain and pleasure and expressing those feelings. The result? The cube can rate and recommend music and other media based on your responses to certain things — basically, it learns what makes you happy or sad or mad and then recommends things based on your prior responses. Eventually, the cube will create a “personality” of its own as it responds to your emotions.

Eager consumers can begin the journey of friendship (or alien/robot invasion) by ordering their own cube at a cost of $315. It may seem a bit steep, but can you really put a price on artificially intelligent digital friendship? The answer is yes, you can.