World’s first cinema that measures audience response to open in UK

A seat in a cinema
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Bristol will be home to The Instrument Auditorium, a cinema that measures heart rate, eye movement and brain activity. 

From May of next year, production companies and studios will be able to get feedback on the films they are launching like never before. The Instrument Auditorium, opening in Bristol, is a 36-seater cinema that will be able to measure audience response in biometric form, including ‘heart rate, eye movement and brain activity.’ The report from Screen Daily states that ‘researchers will even be able to monitor the electrical properties of people’s skin to gauge their subconscious emotional and sympathetic responses.’

As you might imagine, there’s no shortage of studios keen to explore this as it seems like the ultimate form of audience feedback. Netflix and Google love nothing more than a wedge of data so it’s no surprise that they’re on board, but lots of other companies have signed up too, including BBC, BT and Aardman.

Iain Gilchrist, professor of neuropsychology at the University of Bristol, is part of the team leading the project and has said: “We plan to work with film companies and distributors at multiple stages of the production pipeline. For example, the facility will allow us to test the audience response moment-by-moment to inform the selection of the final version for release.”

He also added: “The Instrumented Auditorium will allow us to stream data that captures audience responses moment by moment, providing unique insights that take us way beyond current questionnaire-based methods. This is the first fully instrumented facility of its kind in the world, which is exciting not just for us as researchers but for those working in the creative sector, providing insights which will shape the future of film, television and beyond.”

We’ve no doubt as to the accuracy of that final statement, but will it actually make films any better upon release? Who knows, but we’re sure to see more of these spring up if this one proves to be useful for filmmakers and studios. Whilst it doesn’t sound like it will be open to the public, we’ll still bring you more on The Instrumented Auditorium as we hear it.

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