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Studio Sense: We are emotional beings

We are emotional beings. No matter who you are, where you live.

Emotion can inform Identity. It can enforce Belonging. It can generate Fandom.

Be that for music, fashion, sports, comics, technology, nature or even the human relationship, the same thing underpins them all.

We are emotional beings.Everything is driven by emotion. Our actions. Our decisions. Our memories.

They can be triggered by sounds, smells, tastes, people, and locations. And these emotions generate responses in our bodies that we can feel and sometimes don’t express. Or sometimes we express them freely, loudly and with passion.

The key here is that our bodies generate physiological responses: if we understand the context of what is making them happen, and the way the body is responding, then we can start to understand emotional responses. We can now begin to measure, quantify and visualise emotions.

How?  This is how.  With cameras, microphones, wearable devices, mobile devices, the sensors you wear, the sensors around you, and deep learning in the brave new world of understanding the human body and the world around us.

The Physiology Age has arrived in a whirlwind of technology. But is this the last personal frontier being crossed? If so then we must tread carefully, as you would with any relationship, because it’s going to be emotional. As with everything in the world of emotions it’s going be exciting, passionate, joyous, sad, scary, angry, and quite a bit of ‘meh’.

So now we’ve got that covered, what can we do in this new world of the Physiology Age? We can do what all great creatives in the history of mankind have been doing … Tell great stories.

In all creative industries from writing to design, from music to film making, from performance to painting you are trying to create an emotional bond, a story that will translate to your audience, push those buttons that will make them think, make them engage, make them remember, make them do something as a result. A little piece of ‘change their world’.

Now imagine if that emotional feedback loop could be measured and came back to you as a creative. Now that you can measure, quantify and visualise emotions it opens up a level of insight never before understood in terms of research, and a method of engaging with your audiences in a way that has never existed in the history of our species.

This is what we do at Sensum.  We straddle the ‘Art & Science of Emotions’.  We come from music, film, fashion, events and tech backgrounds and over the last five years have found ourselves at the bleeding edge of emotions research, producing the world’s first emotional response horror film back in 2011, which was premiered at SXSW.

This took us on a journey from thinking we’d just created a new form of audience engagement for cinema, TV and gaming, to the hard reality-check that we were way too early for that kind of thing, and we had to quickly come up with some other cool stuff to do with this kind of emotional data.

Since then we have created the world’s only software platform that can measure emotional responses in the places that people live and breathe, both for scientific research and for interactive PR events.

This month alone the Sensum platform is being used in an expedition across the Arctic circle to measure emotions in extreme conditions, to measure the biometric responses of an audience at a music festival in Malaysia and using that data to control the big screen visuals, to create a biometric survey tool that will send questions to respondents when their body signals change, and to create a new model for synchronizing emotional data with camera streams for producing broadcast media.

So you want to start measuring emotions and engaging with your audience? Here are a couple of tips :

Push emotional buttons

You don’t need technology to be creative. That would be a slur on the creative soul that lives in us all.  But the fact that you can now see your audience emotions responding could be very useful.

Every creative storyteller on the planet knows that you should push emotional buttons. You don’t need anyone to tell you that the most emotional experiences are the most memorable and engaging.

But you might need some tools to measure whether your audience are going on your emotional journey with you. Or you might want to try whether you could take it that one step closer to the edge. Or you might want to prove to your financiers or clients that actually your creative angle is emotionally the most effective, and that their opinion is greatly appreciated, but shouldn’t win the ‘final cut’ discussion.

Use the right tools for the job

The easy answer to this is to use anything that can measure the body for both conscious and non-conscious responses. And make sure you capture the contextual data or it is all just a bunch of numbers going up and down. Don’t forget you’re telling a story, whether that’s to understand what is happening, or controlling the environment that people are engaging in. Where do you want the research or event to run? What can you actually measure in those circumstances? Is your audience to be a passive transmitter or an active engager?

Live or retrospective – either way consider it at the start 

Usually if it’s for research it’s retrospective, and if it’s for an event it’s live, only because the live PR events can be opportunistic, and the research is by its very nature organised.

The main driver for the decision is data communications capability as sometimes that can be a heavy load on the data transmission, and on processing the different data types to derive emotional understanding.

As with everything emotions and biometrics can be seamlessly integrated in the ‘design’ of the research or the event as long as it’s not thought of as a bolt-on, or a ‘cool’ addition, and conceptualized from the outset.

Treat it like a relationship

Be up front.  Be truthful.  Be clear on the data transaction. And build an emotional foundation of trust, then you can go on that emotional rollercoaster together.

You are measuring the digital form of people. You are asking people to engage their digital selves with you in the name of research or creativity.  As you come up with your concepts in this new era, if your idea feels creepy, it probably is.

And finally …

Be creative.  Be passionate.  Be loyal.Your emotional relationships will follow.

Lead image created by Pham Thi Dieu Linh

More at sense.co

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