Saturday, July 30, 2011

New technology will measure your reaction to advertising

Originally published 3/22/11 on

I read a lot of science fiction, so I can see all kinds of bad futures for this one. Larry Dignan at ZDNet reports on a new technology: Neuromarketing. Neuomarketing is the creation of Neurofocus, a company that claims to develop advertising based on neuroscience. If you don't know (I didn't), neuroscience is an interdisciplinary science involving several fields including chemistry, computer science, and psychology, to name a few.

Neurofocus has a device called the Mynd that is basically a consumer friendly personal wireless EEG. It monitors your response to advertising - not just what you tell them your response is, but how you really react. Larry covered a few of the highlights of what it does:

I can see advertising folks drooling now. The aim for Mynd is to capture real responses from consumers who would participate in home panels. Mynd would send data to a mobile device that would capture reactions. Among the key details:
* Mynd has dense-array medical grade electroencephalographic (EEG) sensors.
* The device captures brainwave activity across the full cortex and can connect to mobile devices via Bluetooth.
* The sensors are dry so there are no gels to burden consumers.
* Mynd has been in testing and development for three years and will roll out to labs in the U.S., Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East.
Dr. A. K. Pradeep, CEO of NeuroFocus, said Mynd can enable “neuromarketing” to gain “critical knowledge and insights into how consumers perceive their brands, products, packaging, in-store marketing, and advertising at the deep subconscious level in real time.”

The potential of this device is frightening - but at this point it's not a very big concern. Unless you agree to put on the headset it's not going to affect you. But if real privacy lawss aren't passed soon this may become the next big privacy fight. Even if the technology becomes miniaturized enough to fit in a baseball cap or a hoodie it may not be a big deal, if you have to agree to transmitting your data. But your data can be read without your permission, this will be major privacy issue. If the technology reaches the point it can scan from a distance it could become a big deal. We're already in a fight over who controls our personal data online. You don't get much more personal than your brainwaves.