The NTT Group has unveiled technology that analyzes the interest level of TV viewers and web surfers by monitoring their eye movement, pupil size and blinking.
Improving on conventional eye-tracking systems that provide an understanding of where viewers cast their gaze, this new computer-operated system features cameras that monitor and analyze unconscious physiological reactions to interesting viewing material -- namely, enlarged pupils and changes in the rate of blinking.
The technology, which became commercially available on March 14, was developed by NTT Learning Systems (NTTLS) and the Visual Interactive Sensitivity Research Institute (VIS), both of which are involved in visual content creation. NTTLS says the technology can be used in conjunction with driver safety training videos, and negotiations with a major automaker are now underway.
NTTLS claims the system appeals to a wide range of potential users, including those involved in TV commercial advertising and web content creation. Television audience ratings alone do not provide producers a clear picture of the level of interest in commercials, and web traffic stats do not show which parts of a web page visitors find interesting. With this system, however, producers can get a more accurate understanding of what the audience is looking at and how interesting they find it.
Judging from the large size (and presumably high cost) of the device that sits between the viewer and the monitor, though, the system is clearly designed for use in the laboratory. But it's just a matter of time before this is standard computer monitor/TV screen equipment and producers keep one eye on the real-time audience pupil data while they develop and deliver content.