by Tracy Dempsey
January 19th, 2013
Belfast, Northern Ireland – Northern Irish start-up Sensum are set to shake up the way researchers use test screenings to gauge an audience’s engagement with entertainment – with technology that measures tiny changes in viewers’ sweat levels.
Test screenings of TV pilots, feature films or advertisements traditionally involve audience questionnaires, which are by nature subjective. The Sensum emotional response platform adds to these methods with pioneering mobile technology that gives researchers a more in-depth view of audience engagement, whilst protecting viewers’ anonymity.
The Sensum platform measures audience members’ sweat levels using galvanic skin response (GSR) sensors, worn on the fingers, paired with smartphones or tablets which have the Sensum app installed. The data is uploaded to a cloud-based dashboard, where a visualisation shows the points at which the audience’s attention peaked or dropped off.
Gawain Morrison, co-creator of the Sensum platform, explains: “We are entering a new age of natural human computer interfacing and this kind of technology can give entertainment industries a better understanding of audience habits at a time when we are all seeking deeper levels of engagement. Sensors for capturing a range of physiology responses are becoming more widespread; we’ve opted for GSR due to its portability and anonymity for users.”
Over the past few months, the Sensum team has been demoing the capabilities of the platform with members of public as well as media industry insiders. Fans, cast and crew of HBO hit show, Game of Thrones, including storyboard artist Will Simpson and actor Miltos Yerolemou, got to test their reactions to key footage from the show. Oscar-winner Terry George, futurist Gerd Leonhard and Grammy-award winner Imogen Heap also tried out the platform, with Heap nominating her latest music video for Sensum testing during Belfast Music Week. The platform has been fascinating people with the insights its real-time visualisations reveal about their emotional attachment to key characters, scenes and so on.
But Sensum offers much more than just research capabilities. With gamification being an ever-increasing feature of entertainment products, the platform gives content creators the ability to engage with people on a truly emotional level. A viewer’s physiological response to a piece of entertainment could, for example, unlock tailored, bonus content for them.
Morrison has spoken about the future of interactive entertainment and demoed the Sensum prototype at various media and technology events worldwide. At the TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco, he joined Intel Research and Microsoft Kinect on a panel discussing “Natural Human Computer Interfacing for Future Entertainment”. Introducing the Sensum prototype at their Connected TV spring briefings, Channel 4 called Sensum “the most futuristic demo you’ll see today”. Now the futuristic is becoming more mainstream, as broadcasters, brands and media companies embrace wearable technology and affective computing to engage consumers and drive behavioural change. With the launch of the new Sensum platform, its creators are now ready to work with innovative partners interested in the bigger picture.
Notes to Editors:
Find out more about Sensum at http://www.sensum.co or follow @sensumco on Twitter.
To arrange an interview with Gawain Morrison, contact: +44 (0)28 95811818/ +44 (0)7901 910069, firstname.lastname@example.org
Press contact: Tracy Dempsey, +44 (0)7740 509159, email@example.com
A zip file containing various formats of the Sensum logo can be downloaded from http://www.sensum.co/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/SensumLogo.zip
The results of the Imogen Heap music video test event can be viewed at http://sensumco.tumblr.com/post/37067556175/imogen-heap-sensum-emotional-response-audience
The Sensum platform can even use the real-time, physiological reactions of an audience to change the entertainment being watched. At SXSW last year, Morrison debuted an interactive short horror film, Unsound, which responded to the audience’s emotional engagement, as measured by their sweat levels and pulse rate, by changing camera angles and soundscapes to intensify the experience. Read a New Scientist article on Unsound at http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/onepercent/2012/05/gamify-your-sweat-and-make-fil.html