Lymbix is releasing a more accurate version of its e-mail sentiment analysis app, ToneCheck, today. If you're an Outlook user and haven't checked out this service, give it a whirl. It's one of the more interesting Outlook plug-ins.
ToneCheck monitors your e-mail's composing window for potential errors of tone, just as spell-check scans for errors of spelling or grammar. The plug-in will tell you if there are sentences in a message that are likely to come across as aggressive, or likely to cause the recipient to feel sad, or fearful, or humiliated.
If ruining someone's day is what you want, though, ToneCheck won't actually change anything for you. Nor does it attempt to rewrite your messages. It just alerts you to the potentially troublesome emotional backlash you may be setting yourself up for.
The Outlook plug-in is easy to use and unobtrusive. A little meter stays out of the way, only blushing red with a "Tone Alert" when your message goes off the rails. When you click through, It tells you how, flagging sentences with words like "Concerning," or "Upsetting."
You get the chance to correct your tone before HR gets wise to you. And make no mistake, the HR department and other corporate overseers are the intended customers for this service. While the individual plug-in is free and kind of sick fun for a while, Lymbix's goal is to sell corporate versions of this app, as well as API access to its service, to businesses and development shops that support them. The idea is to bake this engine into CRM and other outbound messaging systems. The API is also being used, currently, to add outbound sentiment scanning to Twitter via the HootSuite enterprise Twitter management system.