Arkansas Patent of the Month – July 2023

With a growing work-from-home force, video conferencing has become an integral part of many of our lives. Ofcourse, it doesn’t stop at work. People connect with each other virtually for education, personal interactions, therapy and more. Mmhmm, Inc. is working to build better interaction and engagement in these virtual connections.

As our virtual lives increase, a notable decline in attention span has been identified. Staying focused in a meeting when you’re in the comfort of your own home can be much harder than when the presenter is physically present. To improve engagement and reduce distraction, Mmhmm aims to build fun and utility into the virtual conference world. This mission has recently culminated in a patent for their adaptive backdrops and coaching for immersive video spaces. 

The system developed by Mmhmm utilizes a range of techniques to assess the degree of engagement of participants during a video conference. By monitoring participant reactions and feedback, including verbal and non-verbal cues such as gaze direction, facial expressions, posture, body language, and even physiological responses like pulse rate and perspiration, the system creates a participant engagement index (PEI). This index represents the level of engagement for each participant, ranging from positive/productive mood to angry/over-reacting or indifferent mood.

Using this real-time feedback, the system compares the PEI with predetermined engagement goals and analyzes the presenter’s behavior and presentation parameters. Parameters such as talking speed, volume, complexity and density of visuals, font size, contrast, and color palette are taken into account. Machine learning algorithms are employed to correlate the feedback with presenter behavior, allowing the system to suggest corrective actions to enhance engagement. These actions may include changes in the virtual backdrops viewed by participants, providing specific audio clips, or even offering advice to presenters through a virtual coach.

The system’s decision-making component continuously monitors the PEI and the effectiveness of the actions taken. If the engagement levels remain unsatisfactory for a certain period of time, the system dynamically adjusts the virtual backdrops and audio clips to stimulate a change in participants’ moods. Different customized backdrops and audio may be provided to specific groups of participants or even individuals, catering to their unique preferences and needs.

Furthermore, the system collects engagement analytics and statistics, which are used to improve the system’s performance through machine learning. The virtual coach, powered by trainable automatic classifiers, learns from training data that includes the correlation between PEI values and presenter behavior, as well as the effectiveness of previous actions taken. This enables the virtual coach to provide tailored recommendations to presenters, such as adjusting posture, speaking volume, or spending more time on complex slides.

In addition to adaptive backdrops and audio, the system also allows presenters to incorporate virtual copies of physical items from their personal collections into the conference environment. Books, figurines, sculptures, and other objects can be arranged virtually on immersive furniture or within a virtual presentation room, enhancing the visual experience and creating a personalized touch.

Mmhmm’s system brings a new level of engagement and interactivity to video conferencing. By leveraging advanced technologies, including sentiment analysis, machine learning, and immersive interfaces, the system revolutionizes the way we deliver and experience audio-visual presentations in online meetings. With its adaptive features and virtual coach guidance, Mmhmm empowers presenters to connect with their audience on a deeper level, resulting in more effective communication and increased productivity in the digital realm.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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