Home Articles This award-winning headset measures how consumers respond to marketing content

This award-winning headset measures how consumers respond to marketing content


A headset that captures and measures a consumer’s facial expression, eye gaze, heart rate and brain function may change the way retail outlets design and merchandise their stores.

Developed by the School of Marketing at Perth’s Curtin Business School, the headset captures how a person responds to marketing content whether it is an advertisement, product packaging or shop layout rather than through traditional methods such as focus groups or interviews in a controlled environment.

“It’s a bit like a lie detector test for the retail industry,” said Professor Ian Phau, who heads up the marketing research team at the University which has spent several years developing and refining the technology. “Consumers can’t cheat. By measuring and analysing an individual’s physiological reactions, a retailer can understand how a consumer really feels.”

What can retailers do with this headset?

These insights will enable retailers to better understand their consumers’ conscious and unconscious thoughts as well as their feelings.

As a result, retailers will be able to better arrange their displays, advertising and packaging in store in order to attract, engage, retain and satisfy consumers based on their actual behaviour, not perceived behaviour.

The headset is the inaugural winner of the DuPont Sustainable Solutions Innovation Award. The award is a joint venture between DuPont Sustainable Solutions and Curtin Business School, announced recently at an innovation breakfast held at The Art Gallery of Western Australia.

The prize for the developers of the technology is a trip to the recently launched DuPont Innovation Hub in Singapore which houses nearly 200 scientists, engineers and business leaders.

DuPont award winner Professor Ian PhauWe caught up with Professor Ian Phau for a brief interview, below is what he had to share with Anthill about the innovation and the award.

How do you feel about this DuPont award?

The team is very proud of this achievement and this award acknowledges the hard work and progress that we have made. This DuPont award is a first step in affirming the innovative work conducted at the “Luxury Branding Consumer Research Laboratory” (LBCRL) within the Curtin Business School.

The award also recognises the scalability of our innovation to businesses, academic practitioners and the wider community. The emotive technology we have developed demonstrates real commercial potential by bringing cutting-edge gear and techniques to extract hard numbers from consumer behaviour, and tailoring this information for the global market.

Lastly, the award allows us to continue to build a strong partnership with DuPont Australia, a world leader in market-driven innovation and science, through collaborative research projects and community initiatives.

How exactly did you come up with this idea?

Based on our expertise as research academics, it was clear that the traditional marketing research techniques and methods such as the “self-administer survey forms” and “face to face interviews” were not the most effective measures in understanding consumer emotions and behavioural tendencies. Measurement problems in businesses are often a considerable risk especially for fast moving consumer goods market as well as other comprehensive markets such as luxury goods industry that rely heavily on consumer statistics and information to formulate strategies.

Therefore, in order to address this problem the emphasis on utilising psychophysiological techniques in research quickly became evident. These solutions are developed and facilitated through our “Luxury Branding Consumer Research Laboratory” which uses scientific mobile devices capable of tracking consumers’ cognitive, attitudinal, affective, and behavioural processes in order to ensure highly accurate and reliable consumer responses.

How did you build the headset?

The laboratory was established on a seeding fund provided by the Asia Business Centre at the Curtin Business School. To establish the lab, we have purchased different off-the-shelve psychophysiological equipment from different manufactures such as Biopack, Emotive, Empatica, and Gazepoint. Most research lab is only able to calibrate or test with one device at any one time.

In the Luxury Branding Consumer Research Lab, we write our own program to link and sync 3-4 devices to simultaneously measure consumers emotions. Combined with our expertise in marketing and branding, we service our clients through a custom made program with these devices written to solve their immediate issues (such as customer satisfaction) or proposed plans (new packaging) which are traditionally measured by less reliable methods (such as self-reported surveys).