Computer Detects Anger Before Fights Break Out

You can tell when you hear someone is really angry—and get out of the way. Now Sigard, a new software package developed by Sound Intelligence, can also detect verbal aggression with a high level of accuracy.

Combined with closed circuit television systems, Sigard can quickly notify security personnel about loud, angry people in outdoor public spaces, public transportation, nightclubs and bars.

Here's how it works. A single analysis computer accepts sensor input from a variety of locations. Once the software detects a verbally aggressive human voice, it activates the camera associated with that sensor, bringing it to a security guard's attention. This helps cut down on the number of people needed to monitor CCTVs.

Sigard Sound Intelligence software imitates the way that humans deal with sound, splitting it into different frequencies with varying amounts of energy. Just as a person can immediately detect anger and aggression in the midst of background noise, Sound Intelligence software "listens" for the same parameters that humans use in detecting aggressive speech.

This system is already in place in a few locations in the Netherlands. Police in the UK are also considering installing the system.

It took engineers about forty years to catch up with the imagination of science fiction writers. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the HAL 9000 computer is able to detect when crew members are too upset to make good decisions:

"HAL, switch to manual hibernation control."

"I can tell from your voice harmonics, Dave, that you're badly upset. Why don't you take a stress pill and get some rest?"

"HAL, I am in command of this ship. I order you to release the manual hibernation control."

"I'm sorry, Dave, but in accordance with special subroutine C1435-dash-4, quote, When the crew are dead or incapacitated, the onboard computer must assume control, unquote. I must, therefore, overrule your authority, since you are not in any condition to exercise it intelligently."
(Read more about the HAL 9000 computer

Here are some other unusual examples of computer analysis of the human voice at work:

Read more at the Sound Intelligence website.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from —where science meets fiction.)