Telefonica Digital appeared to channel Orwell’s ‘1984’ dystopia at MWC this week, revealing plans for a linguistic analysis engine which can glean information about callers’ personalities and preferences.
The project, which uses a linguistic analysis engine to mine and analyze call data, was revealed at a Telefonica Innovation briefing at MWC. The engine can be used to track call location and duration, which is useful for measuring the impact of something such as an event in a certain area.
More controversially, the project also plans to analyse personal calls. Telefonica’s linguistic analysis engine can extract information about a caller’s personality and preferences based on the tone of their voice.
The operator claims to have a team that includes psychologists that can identify personality traits with 80% accuracy based on the call analysis. The idea is that the information can be sold on to advertisers and companies seeking greater information on customer habits and tastes.
Telefonica stressed that these are internal trials, which only analyse the tone of the voice and not the content of the conversation and that it is on a consumer opt-in basis.
Commenting on the project, Ed Zoller, consumer analyst at Ovum, warned that the project would be likely to make consumers uneasy.
He said: ‘Ovum believes that a commercial launch for the project is likely to be challenging. Telefonica’s linguistic analysis engine provides a deep level of granularity, even without listening to actual conversations, and we think that consumers will be very uncomfortable and resistant to the idea. Consumers are increasingly concerned about how their personal data is exploited, which in turn is reflected by mounting regulatory scrutiny of this issue.’