From MIT’s Media Lab to Time Warner’s: Innerscope’s Biometric Tech

3/5/12Follow @xconomy

It doesn’t take a neuroscientist to know that the past two New England Patriots vs. New York Giants Super Bowl games have been emotionally charged for fans.

But it might take one to measure the more under-the-surface emotional responses to advertising throughout the games. That’s where Boston-based Innerscope Research comes in.

Founded in 2006, Innerscope is building its business around the notion that the traditional market research method of asking consumers questions doesn’t paint the full picture of their engagement with media.

“We believe that emotions direct attention and enhance memory, and drive behaviors,” says Carl Marci, Innerscope’s co-founder, CEO, and chief science officer. “We’re measuring the amount of relevance and connection a target audience has to communication.”

Innerscope has developed a biometric sensor system that measures heart rate, skin sweat, respiration, and motion. Worn as a belt, the device wirelessly sends the wearer’s data to Innerscope’s back-end system and patent-pending algorithms for analysis on how emotionally engaged viewers are with the media they watch.

“It allows us to use the body’s preparation for action as an indication of the emotional response,” Marci says of the technology, which has its roots at the MIT Media Lab. Marci, an MD, is also currently director of social neuroscience at Massachusetts General Hospital.

This isn’t the first startup we’ve covered that is looking to make market research more high tech. Waltham, MA-based Affectiva, also with MIT Media Lab roots, measures heart rate, motion, and facial expressions to measure emotional reaction to Web content. But Marci says his startup’s technology is focusing on a consumer’s connection with a medium, more so than a reaction to it.

“We collect data as people experience advertising in a passive way,” says Marci, noting the belt is designed to feel barely there.

Innerscope’s studies often combine that biometric technology with eye tracking, to determine which aspects of a commercial or other media a viewer is reacting to, and drill down further with focus-group questions on those specific elements. Ultimately, Innerscope uses the information to make recommendations to its clients on how to better engage the audience they’re seeking.

Which brings us back to the Super Bowl. Innerscope has evolved into a host of sorts for the big game, bringing consumers in and getting them belted, since 2008. The company had a new venue for this year’s Super Bowl party: the newly opened Time Warner Media Lab in New York, where Innerscope is a partner and corporate sponsor.

The lab is designed to measure … Next Page »

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