Monday, March 28, 2011

Product Review: Humintell MiX Elite

Humintell is expanding its product family with MiX Elite that is offering advanced features to its customers. This in-depth review covers the high and low points of this new product, gives an insight as whether or not this product is for you and an appreciation of its price.


Instructional Videos
The instructional videos have been updated with new faces and new comments. The training includes frontal, profile and 3/4th videos on the seven universal emotions, possible confusions among similar-looking emotions, and Evolutionary Vestige videos.

MiX Elite comes with nearly 50 videos and it is considerably more than every other product. While the visual aspect significantly gains from the different views, the audio commentaries quickly become repetitive since they are all the same regardless of the view. Advises in order to properly recognize emotions in a given view would have greatly enhanced the training. The instructional videos are nonetheless very instructive, enjoyable and considerably more useful for real world application since it's possible to see each emotion covered by 3 different views.

The texts following instructional videos in regard to each emotion are also noteworthy. They contain triggers and functions of the given emotion, FACS scores along with an image, and associated non-verbal behaviour. The FACS scores require knowledge of the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) and it's suitable for a product that calls itself Elite.

The Evolutionary Vestige videos are available in frontal-view only but it comes at no surprise because the commentaries could have been satisfying in text form. The confusions among similar-looking emotions videos are also part of MiX Elite but in frontal, profile and 3/4th, which is important because they allow customers to see the actual differences between those emotions in different views.

I would have preferred videos with the three views displayed side-by-side for each emotion because it makes the comparison and the mental association easier. My preference aside, the videos available in MiX Elite are without a doubt leveraging the development of one's ability to recognize emotions by providing a full experience in the three most meaningful views. Humintell does have a strong competitive advantage with this feature.

Practice
There are fifty-six (56) micro-expressions to be recognized during the practice. Those are randomly displayed to increase the challenge and keep trainees on their toes. The practice is shorter comparing to MiX Professional because there are the same number of practice images in both trainings, even though there are two additional views in MiX Elite — see Comparative Study below. I have suggested in the past to mirror images from profile and 3/4th views as a cost effective solution to offer a more complete experience but this suggestion did not make it.

MiX Elite and MiX Professional clearly emphasizes on instructional videos. MiX Professional offers a worthwhile practice but it feels short. MiX Elite offers a multi-views practice but it feels neglected for its lack of images. The multi-views will nonetheless give its trainees an effective training considering that life is not happening in frontal view only.

The Hidden Risks of Certification

The practice and test results are following the same predicament than every other product offered by Humintell. An overall score in percentile is attributed according to one's answers and a score for each emotion is also displayed. This is by all mean an important feedback to the trainees because they need to know their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to recognizing emotions and micro-expressions.

A certificate is given upon the successful completion, ranging from Proficient to Master depending on how well a trainee performs, and obtaining 100% on each run may be the grand prize for many. There are however hidden risks behind the certification and the practice and test results. The certification and results may infer a false impression that no further improvement is necessary, which may turn in overconfidence. (Read my Essay on Self-Confidence)

Nearly all software available on the market provide sequences of images that may be willingly or unwillingly memorized, which will taint the results. The training has a limited effectiveness that is wearing out over time, according to research by Humintell (read here and here), though it's important to mention that it's a matter of assimilation — the more time spent learning, the more likely one's ability to recognize microexpressions effectively and accurately is to be permanent. It's nonetheless unlikely that anyone can be 100% accurate at all time in real life situations, or even with a new set of images, in spite of what the results may tell you.

Remember, however, a training in recognizing micro-expressions is better than no training and MiX Elite is a front runner.

Comparative Study: MiX Elite, MiX Pro and MiX 2
MiX Elite is offering everything MiX Professional has but with additional instructional videos and the images are available in three different views — namely frontal, profile and 3/4th. This product clearly offers more than other products but it has two noticeable shortcomings: less images per view and an uneven distribution of images among each emotion.

(Click to Enlarge Full Table)The uneven distribution is an important shortcoming because it is desirable to practice each emotion evenly in general and practice customer's difficult-to-recognize emotions in particular. MiX Professional offers an even distribution, which is a plus. The distribution in MiX Elite is however considerably better than in MiX 2, where there are no image to recognize for three (3) different emotions in two (2) different views in the latter.

MiX Elite is an excellent choice but it would considerably gain from providing an even distribution of images among each emotion and in providing more images. Four (4) images per emotion, per view, would turn this product into a solid value. Eight (8) images per emotion, per view, would turn this product into a dream come true.

MiX Elite is offered at a preset speed of 66 ms, which is between 1/15th and 1/16th of a second. MiX Professional is offered at a preset speed of 100ms, which is 1/10th of a second. Finally, MiX 2 is configurable with suggested values from 66 ms to 500 ms.

Pricing
MiX Elite is offered at $89.00 USD with the most complete set of features available on the market, where the instructions given along the training are unmatched and the practice are offered in three views. The price difference with MiX Professional is $20.00 USD and the price difference with MiX 2 is $10.00 USD. MiX Elite is a serious contender and does worth the price difference.

MiX 2 + MiX 2 Additional Practice is offered at a total of $91.00 USD and may be a better choice with its whopping 126 images to those who are looking for more practice than instructions. MiX Elite is otherwise a better choice.

Give Demos a Try...
Newcomers? Give a try to MiX 2 and SubX demos that are available for free.

Summary: Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Frontal, profile and 3/4th views
  • Quality content, images and videos
  • Best offer on the current market
  • Outstanding customer support
Cons
  • Neglected practice
  • No overall statistics
  • No stand-alone application
  • No warranty per se
Conclusion
Humintell went the extra mile by developing an amazing product, MiX Elite, and it is a true mark of a market leader. MiX Elite comes with improvements over its predecessors, desiring features and at a good price. Those who seek more instructions than practice will be very well served. The shortcomings are not hindering the fact that MiX Elite is now the best offer on the market.

I highly recommend Humintell's MiX Elite.

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