Rana el Kaliouby is an Egyptian-American computer scientist, entrepreneur, angel investor, author, and keynote speaker. According to her website, el Kaliouby is “an AI thought leader on a mission to bring emotional intelligence to our digital world” whose life work revolves around “humanizing technology before it dehumanizes us.”
Education and early career
El Kaliouby studied computer science at the American University in Cairo before earning a Ph.D. from Newnham College at the University of Cambridge.
At Cambridge, her dissertation focused on the design, implementation, and validation of computational models of mind-reading. That is, she proposed that machines could infer the emotions (or cognitive states) of humans from their non-verbal expressions in real time.
She then joined MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a research scientist. Based on what she would later call “Emotion AI”, el Kaliouby initially spent her time at MIT improving human-computer interaction.
After a while, however, she realized the tech could be used to improve communication between two people. This was especially true for autistic people who tended to struggle with communicating their emotions.
Ultimately, el Kaliouby and her team developed an emotion-reading pair of wearable glasses. The glasses, or “emotional hearing aids”, enabled those with autism to detect emotional cues and were named by The New York Times as one of the top 100 innovations for 2006.
El Kaliouby later co-founded Affectiva with Dr. Rosalind Picard in 2009. Affectiva, which was spun out of MIT Media Lab, is the developer of AI that understands human emotion and cognitive states based on the analysis of facial and vocal expressions as well as body posture.
Affectiva’s AI was built with computer vision, deep learning, and speech analytics and based on copious amounts of data collected from real-life situations. In fact, the new field of Emotion AI that el Kaliouby created was based on 10 million consumer responses to more than 53,000 ads from 90 countries.
The AI uses an optical sensor (such as a smartphone) to identify key features on the human face before an algorithm classifies facial expressions and maps them back to specific emotions. It is now mostly used in automotive and media-related contexts, with many companies using the technology to gauge consumer reactions to marketing content.
When Smart Eye acquired Affectiva for $73.5 million in June 2021, el Kaliouby became the former company’s Deputy CEO. The Swedish manufacturer of driver monitoring systems was keen to use Affectiva’s tech to expand the capabilities of its own platform and enable users to monitor other aspects of the vehicle.
According to her LinkedIn profile, el Kaliouby is also working more broadly with Smart Eye CEO Martin Krantz to “scale the company into a global AI powerhouse”. The core focus is on driving AI innovation and promoting Emotion AI across markets such as automotive interior sensing, media analytics, and research.
Like counterpart Jeremy Howard, el Kaliouby is involved in the World Economic Forum’s Future Global Council on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. She is also a member of YPO, a global leadership community of CEOs whose goal is to become better leaders.
In May 2021, el Kaliouby joined the healthcare and video analytics company Videha Health on the Board of Directors.
That same year also saw her join Harvard Business School as an Executive Fellow. As part of the role, el Kaliouby currently co-teaches several different classes related to AI entrepreneurship, AI business models, and how to bring AI products to market.
More recently, in May 2022, she became a General Partner of the AI Operators Fund – a VC firm comprised of AI pioneers, operators, entrepreneurs, and investors.
- Rana el Kaliouby is a computer scientist, entrepreneur, angel investor, author, and keynote speaker. According to her website, she is “an AI thought leader on a mission to bring emotional intelligence to our digital world” whose life work revolves around “humanizing technology before it dehumanizes us.”
- At Cambridge University, el Kaliouby proposed that machines could infer the emotions (or cognitive states) of humans from their non-verbal expressions in real time. The research was initially focused on human-computer communication but later morphed into the development of tech to improve communication for those with autism.
- El Kaliouby co-founded Affectiva in 2009. The company develops AI that understands human emotion and cognitive states based on analysis of facial and vocal expressions as well as body posture. This resulted in a new field known as Emotion AI which is now utilized by autonomous vehicle companies and also any organization wanting to gauge consumer reactions to marketing content.
- Background and Education:
- Rana el Kaliouby is an Egyptian-American computer scientist, entrepreneur, angel investor, author, and keynote speaker.
- She studied computer science at the American University in Cairo and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge.
- Her Ph.D. research focused on developing computational models for machines to infer human emotions and cognitive states from non-verbal expressions in real time.
- MIT Media Lab and Emotion AI:
- El Kaliouby joined MIT Media Lab as a research scientist, where she worked on improving human-computer interaction and developing “Emotion AI.”
- She recognized the potential for Emotion AI to enhance communication for individuals with autism, leading to the creation of emotion-reading wearable glasses.
- Co-Founding Affectiva:
- In 2009, el Kaliouby co-founded Affectiva with Dr. Rosalind Picard.
- Affectiva developed AI that analyzes facial expressions, vocal tones, and body posture to understand human emotions and cognitive states.
- The company’s technology was based on extensive data collected from real-life situations, enabling applications in various fields, including automotive and media analytics.
- Acquisition by Smart Eye:
- Affectiva was acquired by Smart Eye in 2021, and el Kaliouby became the Deputy CEO of Smart Eye.
- Smart Eye, a manufacturer of driver monitoring systems, aimed to integrate Affectiva’s technology to expand its platform’s capabilities and monitor additional aspects of vehicles.
- Roles and Contributions:
- El Kaliouby is involved in the World Economic Forum’s Future Global Council on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.
- She is a member of YPO, a global leadership community of CEOs.
- El Kaliouby joined Videha Health’s Board of Directors and Harvard Business School as an Executive Fellow.
- In 2022, she became a General Partner of the AI Operators Fund, a VC firm focused on AI innovation.
- Emphasis on Emotion AI:
- El Kaliouby’s work is centered on bringing emotional intelligence to the digital world and humanizing technology.
- Her contributions to Emotion AI have applications in diverse fields, including automotive interior sensing, media analytics, and research.
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