Instead of taking surveys online, marketing research now uses a mind-reading headband that automatically detects whether you like something or not.
It sounds like something out of 1984 or A Clockwork Orange but the EmBand device from neuroscience leader EmSense is now entering use in the United States. In the past, marketers would conduct research on how normal people might respond to, say, videogames, potential commercials or movie trailers by requesting respondents to fill out complicated surveys after they have consumed the material. Now that most of this research is done in the home of volunteers, online surveys have replaced pen and paper ones. The EmBand takes that one step further by detecting people's positive or negative emotional response to a product or campaign and immediately sending that information to its clients in real time. Emsense said that more than 2,000 households have volunteered to receive EmBands and the company expects 25,000 more by the end of 2011.
"The market research industry has long sought a solution to measure positive or negative emotion and consumer engagement in all forms of marketing stimuli, spanning advertising, packaging, creative concepts and the shopper experience," said Keith Winter, president and CEO of EmSense Corporation. "Advances in neuroscience and electronics technology have opened the door to reliable measurement using EEG and other bio-sensory metrics."
Not only can the EmBand read your thoughts, but it also has accelerometers to track head movement which test distraction levels of respondents. Apparently, moving your head around while watching a movie trailer means that you are distracted.
While it's great to hear about advances in technology increasing efficiency, I've got to say that the EmBand sounds a little creepy. Would you volunteer to wear a headband that read your brainwaves, immediately interpreting whether you like something or not?
Plus, it seems like this information could be wildly misinterpreted, especially if there is no chance for calibration or ways for people to qualify their response. For example, what if an advertisement might tick you off, but you'd still buy the product being advertised because the ad was entertaining or pointed out something that you've often noted?
Also, it just seems like we'd be giving too much information to robot overlords. If they know what kind of cake is our favorite, they will be able to trick us into eating its deliciously poisonous icing that much easier.