Posted by Dr Charles Nduka.

monitoring emotional response in VR

In the first 2 parts of this 3 part series we have discussed that emotional response is a key part of market research and we also understand that VR is becoming increasingly used within the world of product feedback. But in order to ensure they are getting accurate and relevant results, market researchers need an accurate method of capturing the emotions felt whilst using VR.

Researchers are currently using several methods to capture emotional response in VR, including surveys, ECG, and skin conductance. A recent study by Nesta and i2 Media Research for Digital Catapult evaluated audience impact within immersive experiences by immersing three focus groups into different virtual reality scenarios. The study applied the traditional method of capturing feedback through questionnaires, which introduces the legacy issues relating to memory retention and the ability to describe such an immersive experience. The study highlights the importance of Positive Affect (or positive emotional response) and engagement, stating that they most consistently predicted variation in global impact and value ratings across all content and trials.

VR could be revolutionary for market research. It’s potential in academic research is increasingly recognised as it provides the chance to finely control what the person sees and hears. One can prototype products, films, experiences with high fidelity to test ideas and optimise outcomes before risking the cost of a failed launch. However, assessing how people truly feel is still problematic. There needs to be a solution in real-time to measure affect and engagement, that doesn’t rely on memory, questionnaires or post-study recall. Ideally, the solution would combine measurements from multiple sources in order to get an in-depth understanding of how people are feeling. This will result in high-quality market research that can be used proactively to fine-tune products to perfection. But how will this happen?

Emteq is pioneering the measurement of affect, engagement and arousal in VR. We have developed the latest sensing technology allowing for highly-accurate capture of complex facial expressions. As the face is an important indicator of emotional response, it is a fantastic way of identifying how a person really feels about a product, place or scenario. In the future, Emteq’s technology could be used to accurately detect and measure emotions experienced within an immersive VR experience, allowing market researchers to finally solve the current challenge and map actual audience response to elements within VR.

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