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Yahoo could put more emotion into emails with personal sensors

One of the world’s most popular email services could use the sensors in smartphones to convey the feelings of the sender and specific details about the world around them.

Jeff Bonforte, the man in charge of Yahoo Mail, told The Times in an interview that we will end up putting more emotion in what we write in the coming years.

Smartwatches might constrict to indicate stress or smartphones could go cold if someone emails you from a chilly place.

Mr Bonforte said: “Messaging should get more intimate, that’s what we strive for.”

Email recipients tend to make inaccurate assumptions or fail to pick up sentiment in text, and the key, Yahoo believes, is the range of sensors already present in smartphones such as thermometers, accelerators and gyroscopes.

Taking advantage of heart rate monitors and pedometers in smartwatches will ensure such technology enters the mainstream.

“We're only really using three or four sensors properly now,” said Bonforte.

“But with more sensors, we could pretty soon understand 1,000 different points of information from an email. I want to know what someone else is experiencing right now. Messaging will go in that direction. That's far more emotionally connecting.”

The Apple Watch, which goes on sale next month, has a feature called Digital Touch, which will enable users to send screen taps to each other, as well as their heartbeat, and will then be transmitted by haptic feedback vibrations built into the device.

Using Yahoo Mail as a testing ground for such technology could be a successful collaboration, given that the service has around 225 million people using it monthly.

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