EMVIO Goes to the Movies, Part 2


We had the chance to talk to EMVIO Team Member Arina, a graduate student at the Ryazan State Radio Engineer University, about further research on EMVIO watches and viewing movies. While we are working on bringing EMVIO to the general market, this watch can be used as a research tool, and it will open the door to evaluating and assessing people’s emotional reactions.

Q: Tell us about your experiment. 

Arina: We were interested in using EMVIO to see how people react to short films, how their stress changes during the film. Short films are very convenient to use as emotional stimuli because they don’t last more than 10 minutes, and the plot is maximally compressed with one idea embedded in there. This is what it takes to rock the audience’s reaction and but not have them tire of it.

Q: What film did you choose for this trial? 

Arina: I chose one I really liked. It’s a cartoon called The Maker by Christopher Kezelos. [You can see this film on YouTube.] It got more than three million views! It’s in stop-motion style and is about a strange, rabbit-like being who’s in a race to create the most beautiful and important thing in his life. It’s a trivial plot but includes a magnificent performance, love of detail, and an amazing soundtrack. This film evokes a range of emotions.

Q: How exactly did you set up the experiment? 

Arina: To study the emotional reactions we used a stand that was specially designed by our team, by Anton in particular. We could detect the pulse using EMVIO, facial expressions using an HD webcam, and a single-channel EEG (an electroencephalogram shows brain activity) using a headset called a Neurosky MindWave.


Q: Tell us about the people whom you selected. 

Arina: I was able to test 22 people - seven men between the ages of 20-34, and fifteen women of the same age range. The average age was 25 years. Before viewing the film, I took measurements for about 30 seconds while the subjects were getting ready for the film. While watching the film, the subjects’ stress curves were recorded and then all the curves were normalized on a scale from 0 to 1 for ease of comparison. 

Q: And after the experiment? 

Arina: I processed data, and was able to build a “thermal stress index.” Heat maps are well suited for visualizing large amounts of data and are useful when you compare this type of data. Red indicates the moment of maximum stress, and green, the minimum. See [in the graph below] how high stress responses coincided in some subjects, and the highest stress in many subjects occurred when the creature began to play the violin? 


Q: What about the subjective results? How did the subjects feel? 

Arina: I did ask the subjects about the emotions they felt while watching the film. Quite a few subjects (nine!) cried, and their graphs on the heat map showed the actual tears. I’ve put together a few choice quotes.

  • Subject 6: "An amazing movie. Very interesting story. But the rabbit being alone was made me anxious. Throughout the film, I was worried and upset that she was left alone."
  • Subject 8: "I was touched by the story of the film. It's great. And I found a deep meaning of life message within."
  • Subject 10: "At first the rabbit made me laugh, and didn’t think it would be such a serious and moving film. In the end I was crying."
  • Subject 13: "The image of the rabbit seemed interesting. I knew immediately that he was creating his own kind. But until the last moment I hoped that he would beat the hourglass and it would come to life."
  • Subject 14: "So wanted to cry after watching the film. Nicely done. Very inspiring."
  • Subject 16: "I wonder who created such beauty. The only thing I was worried about was the prototype rabbit, especially his teeth!"
  • Subject 18: "Very cool movie. I liked it. The end of course was sad, I wanted to cry!"

Q: In your eyes, how did EMVIO perform? 

Arina: Without exception, the audience would be strongly emotionally charged after such a short film. I saw for myself that the technology embedded in the EMVIO is not just different because it shows if a person is stressed or not. It lets you see the emotional reaction of the person, their responses to watching feature films and commercials. 

To me, it’s a fantastic tool because we can draw conclusions about what content interests an audience, and what specific moments trigger positive or negative reactions. We think that EMVIO might interest advertisers and film producers.

In the end, we on the EMVIO team are excited to see this stress-measuring watch in action, and being utilized by a range of people in different fields. It’s been fascinating to watch films using EMVIO, and soon you will be able to test your own favorite movie experiences and compare your reactions with others.

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