BBC Worldwide will capture viewer's facial expressions as part of a trial to gauge how people react emotionally to TV shows.
In a similar manner to how the new Kinect sensor for the Xbox One can measures player’s heart rates during gameplay, the trial will see webcams recording people’s reactions to episodes of Top Gear and Sherlock.
The Insights Team at BBC Worldwide is working with startup CrowdEmotion, uses facial coding software to detect emotions and reactions including fear, surprise, anger and happiness. CrowdEmotion’s software uses data drawn from over 20 years of neuroscience research to marry viewer’s facial expressions to specific emotions.
So for the great majority, that'll be a mixture of anger and disgust whenever Jeremy Clarkson says something that sounds a bit racist.
David Boyle EVP, BBC Worldwide Insight said: “This is the first study of its kind for BBC Worldwide to measure people’s emotional responses to programmes using a technology-led, neuroscience approach.
“CrowdEmotion’s ability to capture, record and quantify our audience’s emotional attachment and engagement to our TV shows, places BBC Worldwide at the forefront of global audience research and ultimately determines what our fans love to watch.”
The research will improve BBC Worldwide’s ability to ascertain how their audience engages with the TV shows they produce, and will help determine the future of BBC programming.
CrowdEmotion’s CEO Matthew Celuszak says that his company’s software could be used to let people interact with TV sets by winking or smiling, suggesting that donating to charities during ad breaks could be a simple case of showing off your pearly whites.
It’s possible that voting on the outcomes of shows like Big Brother or the X Factor could come down to outbursts of emotion from people at home.
Celuszak added: “Our partnership means we can push boundaries in TV audience research, help quality content cut through the clutter and humanise a brand. With today’s media noisier than ever, we’re here to innovate, bring emotions to life and reshape broadcast media through our findings.”
The first pilot study is taking place in the UK with 200 participants, with a second wave of studies slated to take place in Russia and Australia. A third wave is set to take place in six other international markets. It's not known yet how or when this technology could roll out to viewers but with more and more smart TV sets coming with webcams, its not a great leap to imagine this kind of tech taking off in living rooms.
To get a better idea of how CrowdEmotion's technology might change TV viewing as we know it, check out their video below.