Affective computing is a branch of computer science and psychology that looks at how computers can interpret our emotional states and then use that information in some way to do a job.

For example, if a chatbot like Siri knew you were cranky, she might adjust her tone to avoid irritating you further. If a video game knew whether you were excited or frustrated, it could adjust the difficulty level to ensure that you’re having as much fun as possible.

Now a group of very familiar names have banded together to create a standardised platform for emotional tracking.

The Magnificent Seven

Seven companies have signed up with each other to make this new prospective industry standard. This includes Fove, Neurosky Japan, Brycen and more.

The reason they want to create this platform is to improve the way in which viewer research is done. They are looking at learning more about how people think and feel while watching television adverts.

So in other words, this approach turns a VR headset into a market research tool on steroids.

Big Data

It would appear that having all of the sensors and other equipment paired with a VR headset makes the subject less aware of the fact that they are being monitored. After all, what you see and hear is controlled by the HMD, so it doesn’t matter whether there’s a camera, observers or or sensors built into the HMD itself.

Apart from that, using a VR headset means that the researchers also have control over almost every aspect of the experience, which means they can control for all sorts of things that might have varied between different people’s sessions, contaminating the results.

The system will be used to build a databank of emotional response info and presumably they’ll resell this to third-parties who can use it to make better stuff.

The Eyes Have It

It’s unsurprising to see that Fove is involved with this project, since the company is best known for integrating eye-tracking into their VR HMD. That’s a golden opportunity for these market researchers, since it’s very difficult to use eye tracking without putting people into an awkward position a few inches from a screen. Luckily for them, doing that comfortably is exactly what an HMD does.

It also makes sense since VR HD eye-tracking hasn’t exactly become a mainstream feature quite yet. It has a lot of potential as a way to improve immersion, but the additional cost on top of already expensive VR tech needs to find a killer app before we see more of it.

Selling the technology to the market research industry is one way to make back that research and development outlay.