These Companies Are Helping Put Chicago on the Cutting Edge of Emerging Tech

Through NowLab, Isobar has worked with hospitality brands like Wyndham on machine learning technology and an in-store neuroscience project in Tokyo with Uniqlo designed by Isobar’s company, Dentsu Science Jam. Through a project with MIT Media Lab, Isobar created a way to measure consumers’ reactions inside of VR or mixed-reality environments.

Here’s how the latter works: While it’s easy to have someone try a VR experience and then ask them what they thought of it, there are all sorts pitfalls in that type of qualitative research. For example, people might lie or say one thing and feel another. However, using “co-presence”—going into a VR system with someone to see how they interact—can help them design content that’s more user friendly. The team is also monitoring neuroscience signals like brain waves through an EEG and heart rate through an EKG to understand how people think and feel, even apart from what they’re saying.

“With the biometric data along with the behavioral data, you and I can go in, and we can determine someone’s mood,” Meeker said. “We can determine if you say, ‘No, no, I’m not frustrated,’ but yet your body is showing me that you are frustrated.”

Meeker said the goal of the research is twofold. The first part of that is to be able to make VR applications that balances the art of design and the science of data. He said this will allow designers to understand how a person is feeling as their emotions are pushed and pulled in different directions.

“This is the real moment of ‘aha!’ for us,” Meeker said. “At what point in this VR experience or in an augmented-reality experience did your emotions get you in a certain state? Where are you more inclined to either contact an agent or take a test drive or purchase or commit in some way to furthering the relationship a brand has through a VR ad, an application or an out-of-home experience?”

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