Posted by Jennifer Bassett on March 23, 2011 12:00 PM
This week, neuromarketing firm and Nielsen partner, Neurofocus, unveiled what it's calling the world's first wireless full-brain EEG-tracking headset, designed to capture brainwave activity, at the 75th Annual Advertising Research Foundation conference. Attendees were invited to its booth to demo the product (right) and chat with NeuroFocus CEO, Dr. A.K. Pradeep.
NeuroFocus, one of the leading neuromarketing experts, is already doing intriguing work for some of the world’s top companies. Pradeep was at the ARF event in New York to showcase Mynd and talk up his firm's methods, which he says are the answer to the flaws that many marketers find in focus groups.
The device took three years to produce, and as Pradeep describes it, the company already has ambitious plans for its use—from consumers donning the headset at home, perhaps using it to sync their mood with their TV viewing options, to medical-related research.
As a neuromarketing tool, the device may raise some red flags. While the headset is certainly user-friendly — it's small, lightweight, "dry" (doesn't use gel), and hooks up readily through Bluetooth with an iPad — it is hard to imagine a consumer willingly purchasing the device to monitor their emotional response to their favorite television shows.
After all, it took years to get consumers to don 3D glasses; a headset, that allegedly reads your subconscious thoughts seems even more farfetched, not to mention a little creepy. Additionally, in this day and age, when consumer distrust of brands is at an all-time high, the very look of the EEG Measurement Headset is enough to incite Orwellian fears of big brother.
But Mynd shouldn’t be discounted altogether. Its real potential appears to lie in its recent adoption by The European Tools for Brain-Computer Interaction Consortium, an academic working group of medical researchers.
TOBI plans to use Mynd for a noble and practical cause: to develop practical, medical-grade technology to improve the quality of life for people with neurological disabilities. As Pradeep describes it, the invention could one day be quite useful to the parents of an epileptic child, as it could allow them to see signs of an oncoming seizure. That’s certainly exciting stuff with real, useful and accessible application.
So even if consumers (or marketers) are skeptical of neuromarketing, NeuroFocus’s Mynd device's potential seems bright. Its biggest challenge in the years ahead may not be in getting people to don its EEG measurement headset or to one day meet ARF’s neuromarketing guidelines, but in rebranding its own product to reflect the social good the device may one day bring to the world.