As the holidays wrapped up last month, I turned to my next winter checklist-that of Hollywood’s movie offerings in theaters. It’s near-impossible to get all the big hits in during December’s holidays, so I make sure to use January to catch the remainder of the movies I’m interested in seeing. So many winter-release dramas are meant to be seen on the big screen-Star Wars, The Revenant, In the Heart of the Sea all full of vivid landscapes and raw human emotion.
So I was intrigued when I read about a company called Lightwave that measured audience reactions to the intensity of The Revenant. Partnering with 20th Century Fox, Lightwave gathered an opted-in audience during pre-release screenings of the film, and used bioanalytic technology to measure heart rate, blood volume pulse, skin temperature, electrodermal activity and motion. The reactions were measured throughout the showing and then analyzed with neuroscience techniques to gain insight into emotional intensity at key plot points-indicating fight or flight tendencies, heart-pounding moments, particular times when the audience was startled, and thousands of seconds in which viewers were rendered motionless, “indicating peak engagement levels.”
While I surely anticipate movies using data like this to tweak scenes for maximum audience reaction, I am also interested to see the many ways companies could apply bio data. Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication will be the bedrock of biofeedback and its applications outside of medicine.
Could you release Fitbit data to a hotel so they can ensure you’re relaxed throughout your stay? Would your real-time consumer characteristics be measured by in-store cameras to determine your interest level in items? Could a restaurant pull up your taste preferences and allergies with the press of your fingerprint?
The application of personal data might sound like it’s from a novel set in the future, but in reality companies like Lightwave are showing us that the technology is already here. Explaining the benefits (and limitations) of opting-in to the technology allows consumers to consent and engage with data collection, stating preferences for privacy, communications or feedback.
Going forward, it will be essential to use preference management strategies when integrating bioanalytic technology to our everyday lives, or consumers may be more wary than welcoming.