Wrist-worn device for monitoring people's emotions during market research



MIT Media Lab spinoff company mPath has developed a wristwatch-like wearable that measures changes in skin conductance tied to stress, frustration, disinterest, or boredom. Combined with other data, the device is meant to help companies with “emotyping,” the process of “undersand(ing) customers’ emotional needs or wants” during market research and product development,” according to CEO Elliot Hedman. Their clients range from LEGO to Google to Best Buy. Most recently, they started working with the Boys and Girls Clubs in Denver that could lead to new ways to encourage reading. From MIT News:



This process combines the stress sensors with eye-tracking glasses or GoPro cameras, to identify where a person looked at the exact moment of an emotional spike or dip. Personal interviews are also conducted with all participants, who are shown the data and asked what they think they felt.


This entire process creates a more in-depth, precise emotional profile of consumers than traditional market research, which primarily involves interviews and occasionally video analysis, according to Hedman. “All these things combined together in emototyping tell us a deep story about the participant,” he says.


Emototyping is an especially useful tool when studying children’s experiences, according to Hedman. “It’s hard for kids to describe what they felt,” he says. “The sensors help tell the whole story…”


A study with the New World Symphony found that making songs shorter and performing classical compositions of modern pop music help engage new audiences in classical music. Studying movies such as “The Departed” revealed where some techniques or concepts (such as dark humor) can be implemented in films to keep audiences engaged. At one point, the startup even tracked patrons’ fear throughout parts of a haunted house.


One of mPath’s more unique recent projects was helping a toothpaste company understand people’s experience with brushing their teeth.



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