MoodBox - Smart Speaker Learns and Adapts to User
Tom Spendlove posted on March 30, 2016 |

Pascale Fung from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology uses music and technology to study human emotion and make people happier. Her team of researchers, designers and graduate students is currently running a successful Indiegogo campaign for MoodBox, a smart speaker system that combines artificial intelligence and emotional intelligence.

Emi is the digital AI that lives inside the MoodBox and learns the moods and tastes of the user. The box itself contains a 3 inch 15 Watt woofer and four 1.5 inch 10 Watt tweeters to send soundwaves through a room. The speakers are set up to be omnidirectional and provide a high fidelity sound. The footprint is a 110 millimeter diameter and 250 millimeters tall, with a weight of 3500 grams. A full spectrum of LED lighting sets the mood for the user.

The MoodBox app controls the speaker and the music, while keeping track of your moods and finding patterns in the user’s emotional intelligence. Time and weather can always be requested from the device, and alarms can be set to wake the user with music and ambient light. A software development kit is also available to allow developers to create new features for the box and drive future generations of the product.

The team at MoodBox answered  a few questions for us about the design and development of the device. Creating a speaker that was also a robot was the big design challenge for the group. An elegant and attractive appearance was important so the MoodBox wouldn’t look like a toy, so the user would feel comfortable displaying the speaker on a table in the home. Fitting the components required to power the device, control the learning algorithms, and still maintain sound quality was another design challenge. Future releases might include updates to the speaker fabric that incorporate patterns, colors or Chinese abstract ink paintings. Another wishlist item for development is integrating a lighting platform like Philips Hue so that all of the lights in your home can be controlled.

Emotional intelligence is the big draw for me here as a novel speaker device. The elegant look will depend on personal taste, but being able to have your mood tracked and the music respond to a user’s mood feels like the most powerful motivation for backing this campaign and ordering the product. The team’s posted a great video about the AI taking key words and responding with music and lighting. MoodBox’s campaign ends on April 4, 2016 with units expected to ship in August.

(Images courtesy of the campaign page,

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