Irish firm Filmtrip has released a new mobile app, Sensum, that promises to create personalized game playing, movie watching, and TV viewing experiences by changing on-screen content to match a user’s engagement levels. To use the app, the game player or TV viewer slips on a wrist-mounted galvanic skin response (GSR) sensor that monitors minute changes in a user’s heart rate and skin response (aka variations in sweat levels). A user plays/watches content like usual, and the data from her body’s reactions to the content is sent via bluetooth to the Sensum smartphone app, where it is used to change the on-screen content in real-time according to the reactions.
Unlike a traditional focus group or research methods that asks users to consciously respond to how they’re feeling about what they’re watching, the app captures the unconscious, emotional responses to content, more accurately indicating the moments where users were most engaged. Users (as well as researchers and producers) can use the app to see their emotional responses as a graph overlaid on top of the actual content, to see what and when triggered the highest level of engagement.
These responses, synchronized with on-screen moments, can be used to change content in real-time, with different emotional responses unlocking different content for viewers. This reality that isn’t too far off in the future for mass audiences- the company recently tested the Sensum app at SXSW and the Tribeca Film Festival, and they are currently working with science-fiction writer Ian McDonald to create a movie that uses the physiological reactions from the audience to alter, in real time, the music, special effects, character paths and ending of the film.
Gawain Morrison, CEO of Filmtrip, explains the appeal of the app:
You’re getting rewarded for taking part… you’re getting a personal reward for engaging with the film. All the further content is led by how you engaged with it.