The digital signage industry is about to be revolutionized if a new eye-tracking device for billboards is as good as its creators are claiming. It has never previously been possible to accurately measure how many people actually see an ad that is displayed on digital signage, but this amazing new device should make Google-like tracking metrics a reality for advertisers in a physical setting. Let’s discuss in detail what if real-time eye tracking hits high tech billboards, how will it affect the industry:
It’s all possible thanks to a video camera called Eyebox2 which is about the size of a human palm. The camera, made by XUUK, is surrounded by diodes which emit infra-red light. A mere glance at an ad on a billboard from a passerby will be recorded with 15-degree accuracy, as long as it takes place within a distance of 33 feet.
The revolutionary technology has been a long time under development in Kingston, Ontario in the Human Media Lab of Queen’s University. The CEO of XUUK, Roel Vertegaal, and his team realized that by deliberately causing the same red-eye effect that most photographers try to avoid, the camera could detect the reflection from the retina, and record the fact that the ad was being looked at.
Eye-tracking equipment has been available for some time but is typically excessively costly at around $25,000, needs careful calibration and can only cope with very short distances. It has previously been limited to laboratory volunteers wearing headgear to conduct studies about the viewing habits of shoppers.
Advertisers who utilize billboards and plasma displays will surely welcome a device that negates the needs for labor-intensive site surveys with the use of humans, notepads, tallies, and surveys. As the typical cost of an Eyebox2 is around $1,000 this really will be a no-brainer.
The effectiveness of specific ads over others will be much easier to gauge with the use of this new technology, and well as being able to pinpoint eye activity hot spots in real-time. The VP of Marketing for MediaTile, Mike Foster, confirmed that technology will definitely influence how people buy and sell digital-signage media. MediaTile are California based providers of digital-signage networks and understand the importance of being able to determine the reach of advertisements.
Roel Vertegaal has a grand plan for his new technology, aside from its original use in ambient advertising. “A mouse for the real world” is Vertegaal’s grand vision, as well as TV sets that turn off when not being watched, hearing aids that only amplify the voice of the person you’re talking to, and other such “polite devices”.
Vertegaal says “Eye contact is used to negotiate attention between human beings” and he likens his vision for polite devices to that of how people generally wait to establish eye contact with each other before they start a conversation. “We can have technology do the same thing” he concluded.
As one of the latest innovations in digital signage solutions, this is only the tip of the iceberg. As technology continues to pervade our lives, the retail experience as we know it is shifting into a whole new dimension.