Attention lab rats: Time Warner is interested in how often your belly jiggles when you watch “Hart of Dixie.” The company has opened a media lab in Manhattan so it can study consumer reaction to TV shows, websites, video games and magazines. The lab is a 9,600 foot space equipped with a living room, a 47-seat 3-D movie theatre, an observation room and a mini fake grocery store.
“This [lab] can help people learn what their content looks like when it’s actually watched,” Steve Woodward, Time Warner’s Senior Director for Global Broadcast Technology, told The New York Times.
That’s sort of true. People will be responding, but their reactions will definitely be altered, because the place sounds extremely creepy:
Biometric belts and recording devices can transmit detailed data like heart rate, skin temperature and facial movements that researchers use to decipher viewer engagement. Nondescript white bulblike devices hang from the ceiling to transmit biometric signals.
An adjacent room measures eye movements on devices that look as if they came straight out of an ophthalmologist’s office. Two-way mirrors overlook a room with eight computers and a camera over each user’s shoulder that watches them watch the Web.
Good luck to Time Warner getting natural reactions from people strapped into torture devices. “I so enjoyed reading that fake issue of People in the fake grocery store that I barely noticed the needles in my eyes!”