Microsoft, An Xbox 360, Project Natal And Eye Tracking – The Future Of Market Research? October 8, 2009Posted by Jon Ward in Uncategorized.
Now there is a strange headline right? Well maybe not, well at least not in concept. For any avid gamers out there (I am the resident game addict at Acuity) Project Natal should be familiar to you, it is one of the most hyped and publicised new technologies for a long time. For those of you who aren’t involved in gaming (or as Scott would say – those with a life!) Project Natal won’t mean anything. Project Natal is a new plug in system for the Xbox 360 that allows you to use your whole body as a controller – and before you say just like a Nintendo Wii, look back at what I said… you use YOUR BODY as the controller. The Wii works using IR detectors emitted from sensors in the controller and the receiver bar. Project Natal uses a controller bar and you, your arms, legs, head, body and everything in between! It tracks in real time over 40 points on your body and maps those into the virtual world.
So where does this fit into eye tracking and market research? Well have a look at this video of Project Natal in action with a VR person called Milo…..
Impressive? Scary? A bit like the first stages of the machines taking over? Maybe a bit of all three, but what it is demonstrating is more accessible technology to give us better interaction with VR characters. Let’s skip forward a few years and imagine we are using a virtual supermarket for some market research, we see an assistant – they interact with us (in the same way as Milo does with the user in front of the TV) responding to the tone of our voice, our body language and using eye tracking we can monitor the users interaction. We can then show them an advert, shopping list or example package (just as the user does with the fish picture in the video) and the assistant takes us off around the store to where we want to go….. now that I am sure you agree would be impressive! You could reach out to a shelf and pick up an item, interact with other shoppers and freely look around at point of sale, promotion offers and even your feet if you wish! The eye tracking data could be fed live so people in the VR world react as realistically as possible, we can see how people walk down the aisles, even include interactive point of sale or displays that could respond to your gaze just like they would in the store. Pushy sales people could try to make eye contact with you and you could even try to chat up the girl on the ‘meals for one’ aisle if you wanted!
As we constantly strive to improve MR, UX and usability testing to recreate as close to life situations as possible, Natal gives us a little glimpse of what was originally military technology filtering down towards the mass market. And we think the future looks pretty good!