Dolby Hacks Hollywood

How Dolby is attempting to hack Hollywood by measuring human emotions. Could measuring emotions be the next big thing in entertainment? Via the Verge:

Dolby Laboratories has been around since 1965, and for most people, the company is synonymous to the white label you see at the end of movies that tells you that the sound and video have been remastered in some way. Inside its headquarters in San Francisco, Dolby has over a hundred technical labs, and over the past five years some of the labs have been devoted to a lesser-known project: watching people while they’re watching movies.

Led by neurophysiologist and Dolby chief scientist Poppy Crum, the company has been attaching biosensors to willing subjects and plopping them down on a couch to settle in for an entertainment session. Using EEG caps, heart rate monitors, galvanic skin response sensors, and thermal imaging Flir cameras, the scientists can observe the biophysical and emotional responses that humans are experiencing via media. They’re trying to figure out what kind of videos and sounds make people’s hearts race, what makes their skin flush, and what makes them cognitively engaged, aroused, or maybe even… bored.

Why would Dolby, of all companies, want to do this — especially since it isn’t making video or audio content from scratch? Basically, it’s using this information to better sell its own technology to its Hollywood content partners. The idea being that if it can prove that HDR, surround sound, or a certain color palette, will elicit an emotional response, then the creative content makers are more likely to want to use Dolby tools. This kind of affective computing has been around for decades, but industry experts say that in entertainment it’s becoming even more common. Case in point: both Netflix and Hulu, already very data-driven companies, have used eye-tracking technology in recent years to get a sense of where people are looking within their app interfaces.

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