ORLANDO, Fla. – Focus groups have long been used to test audiences responses to products, but research shows people aren't always completely honest in group settings. But now, new technology could fill the gap.
Susan Constantine is the founder of eFocus A-I, an emotion detection software that claims to read your emotions without you saying a word.
"Its almost like facial recognition," Constantine said. "It's a mathematical genius that knows how to map the face."
News 6 tested the technology with three panelists to gauge their reactions to different scenarios.
Two cameras are set up. One is positioned squarely on the panelists' faces.
The software reads dozens of data points on each person’s face, then processes the slightest micro expression to detect their emotions down to the second.
"We can give you with 100% surety exactly what people are thinking and feeling without them even saying a word," Constantine said.
We started with a simple question: Can Noor Salman, the widow of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, get a fair trial in Orlando?
All three panelists said she could get a fair trial. When panelist No. 2 explains why, the software reads disgust with 99 percent certainty.
"The reason she's showing disgust, that’s how she's feeling about that person," Constantine said.
The disgust was with Salman, and not with the question of whether she can get a fair trial, according to Constantine.
"Remember this is all on a subconscious level," she said.
There are minute facial movements that are universal to certain emotions, according to Constantine, who is also a body language expert.
The software uses an algorithm to compare those expressions with millions of others in its database to determine the likelihood of a certain emotion.
Next, we showed the panelists a clip of a town hall meeting after the school shootings in Parkland, Florida. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is being questioned by members of the audience.
Each panelist has their own color that charts their emotions and this time the program monitored their engagement.
"It's like an EKG of the face. It's reading those data points and providing an output," Constantine said.
According to the program, panelists No. 1 and No. 2 2 are engaged when Rubio is asked if he would stop taking donations from the National Rifle Association.
But when Rubio responds, all three panelists disengage, according to the program.
"It had no impact. It just became a blue line, flat line, code blue," Constantine said. "Your face tells you everything. It's the window to the soul."
The program can test up to 12 people at a time. It is already being used in the legal community to test how a jury might perceive a trial strategy.
Constantine sees it being used in a number of ways, perhaps with advertisers wanting to gauge an audience's reaction to a commercial before it hits the air.
Constantine is in the process of getting a patent for the eFocus A-I technology.