By Niall Firth
Advertisers to use hi-tech anti-piracy cameras to monitor cinema audiences and analyse their emotions
Scared out of your seat by the latest horror film? Or gushing with tears at this year’s must-see weepie?
Soon advertisers will be able to monitor your reaction to a film and fine-tune their adverts to make them more effective.
The move will alarm filmgoers who are uncomfortable with having their reactions analysed while some critics have likened the idea to ‘harvesting people’s emotions’.
The research is led by Machine Vision Lab, experts in facial recognition technology at the University of the West of England, which has received £215,000 funding for the project.
Machine Vision Lab’s Dr Abdul Farooq, who is leading the project, said: ‘We plan to build on the capabilities of current technology used in cinemas to detect criminals making pirate copies of films with video cameras.
‘We want to devise instruments that will be capable of collecting data that can be used by cinemas to monitor audience reactions to films and adverts and also to gather data about attention and audience movement.’
The project will use 2D and 3D imaging technology to capture emotion on people’s faces and how the entire cinema audience reacts as a whole.
‘Obviously cinema audiences are spread out in large theatre settings so we need to build instruments that can capture data for different purposes,’ Dr Farooq said.
‘We will use 2D cameras to detect emotion but will also collect movement data through a 3D data measurement that will capture the audience as a whole as a texture.’
The information gathered about how audiences react to films will be passed to advertising companies who can tailor their adverts accordingly.
‘By measuring emotion and movement film companies and cinema advertising agencies can learn so much from their audiences that will help to inform creativity and strategy.
‘It is envisaged that once the technology has been fine tuned it could be used by market researchers in all kinds of settings, including monitoring reactions to shop window displays.”