To help shoppers decide what gifts they most want for Christmas, Ebay is using “emotional recognition technology”.
Shoppers can enter a booth containing a screen, headphones and a camera, and browse items to find out which ones they “emotionally connect with” at a pop-up store in London which the online private auction site opened on Tuesday. And then, with the aim of providing suggestions for what people really want to give – or receive – over the Holiday season, strategically placed sensors then analyze the person’s reaction to the products they see and helps the person decide about her or her choices.
Volunteers put on noise-cancelling headphones as lights subtly change colour around them after they step inside a ‘Biometric Booth’ and enter their email address on a tablet. Their “emotional response” to each product will be measured after they are shown a selection of eBay gift ideas.
EBay claims that the technology goes further than simply recognizing the expression on someone’s face, eBay claims.
“Muscular micro-shifts from visitors will be captured and correlated with complex emotional and cognitive states recognized by the innovative software engine,” the company said in a release.
Rather than simply transactional, the online retailer says it wants gift-buying to be emotional even while this may sound other-worldly. People become fed up with Christmas shopping after just 32 minutes, the research by the online company shows.
Shoppers visiting the pop-up store would receive a report telling them which ones stir their feelings the most and they can browse 12 items from a variety of retailers. Money from some items sold on its website is being donated to a variety of charities by eBay.
Biometric technology, or human data such as heart rate and temperature, to inform marketing has also been previously used and this isn’t the first time a business has used the technology. To measure viewers’ physiological reactions to the 2016 movie “The Revenant” via a high-tech bracelet, the company behind eBay’s emotional experiment, Lightwave, has previously worked with 20th Century Fox.
To help it understand how people move, and therefore what they need from such a product, this past March, Unilever deodorant brand Degree has also used Lightwave’s devices to measure fans’ physical responses to a NCAA basketball championship.
“Facial recognition or what we call the realm of bio analytics – is very powerful. Today we are making a lot of decisions based on what you’re clicking on on a website or how long you’re spending searching for something on your mobile, but soon technology could help to make that decision time shorter. Instead, you can detect how someone is feeling and then help them,” said Founder of Lightwave, which has helped create the ‘emotion booths’, Rana June.
“An example is Netflix – my Netflix queue is quite long and I always don’t know what I want to watch because everything is genre-based. But if instead it could be ‘you respond to these kinds of emotional archs, here’s five films that exhibit this’, you can really start to imagine what this technology could be used for,” June said.
“The goal of the space is to remove the stress of the outside world by creating a tranquil shopping experience,” Rhian Bartlett of eBay said.