Canadian firm’s e-mail plugin filters out emotions

We recently received a demo of ToneCheck, sentiment analysis software from Moncton, N.B.-based Lymbix that ferrets out negative or otherwise undesirable phrases in your e-mail.

To do so, ToneCheck runs your written communications through a “sentiment analysis engine” which determines the emotional tone of your text based on input from thousands of volunteersrating small snippets of text collected from across the web (including social networks like Twitter and Facebook.) The specifics of the sentiment analysis engine are proprietary, but we were able to figure out that various words and phrases are categorized with eight emotional qualifiers (like affection, elation, fear and anger) and an intensity rating; as more participants in the analysis engine evaluate a word or phrase, it gains more credibility with the ToneCheck software. 

Users who keep their free (for now) ToneCheck software updated will be able to set thresholds for emotional intensity, and the new interface will warn you whenever a word or phrase exceeds your emotional threshold.

The new and improved ToneCheck is currently available as a free extension to Microsoft Outlook, but Lymbix CTO Josh Merchant claims the ToneCheck software is just the tip of the emotion analysis iceberg. “Real-time sentiment analysis is incredibly challenging,” says Merchant. “Many companies have tried it and failed. Our goal is to provide the most sophisticated sentiment analysis engine in the world, and that’s why we’re making [the Lymbex Sentiment API] available to developers.”

Merchant admitted that a Lotus version of ToneCheck was in the works, and clues on the Lymbix website suggest we may soon see ToneCheck plugins for Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird and Gmail. For business owners or IT managers concerned about public image, there’s also an Enterprise version of ToneCheck available that monitors all internal and external company communication from an encrypted server within your company firewall.

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