FEATURE12 June 2018

Virtual behaviour: measuring emotion in VR

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The mass market tipping point for virtual reality may be several years away, but technological advancements from Isobar in conjunction with MIT Media Lab mean user experiences can now be more accurately measured. By Jane Bainbridge.

Young girl virtual reality VR_crop

It’s immersive, intense and all-consuming – the emotional impact of virtual reality (VR) is evident to anyone who’s put on a headset. But for brands to see this technology as anything more than the latest gimmick, a more scientifically replicable emotion-measurement technique is required. This is exactly what Dave Meeker, vice-president of digital marketing agency Isobar US, has been working on with a team of collaborators at MIT Media Lab.

Isobar’s owner, Dentsu Aegis, has been a consortium member of Media Lab for more than six years, so a history of collaboration between the two was established. But the need for this kind of robust measurement was driven by clients. “The question of how you measure VR continued to surface, and without being able to quantify the experience, why would brands invest in it?” asks Meeker. “We know that there’s a payback, purely from the visceral reaction you get when users step inside these worlds, but there ...