Gamify Your Sweat And Make Films More Exciting

Sweating during a movie–gross right?  Sensum @sensumco and Shimmer Research @ShimmerResearch are about to change that, by using this innovation to make movie-watching interactive and even giving users a score for engagement.  Sweat leader-board anyone?

via Kat Austen @katausten, newscientist.com

Getting really sweaty is not normally a good thing. But imagine if doing so could make the film you’re watching more exciting – or even change what happens next. Technology firm Sensum is launching a smartphone app that will use your sweat to make life far more entertaining.

Sensum pairs a wrist-mounted galvanic skin response (GSR) sensor, made by Dublin company Shimmer Research, via Bluetooth to a smartphone with the Sensum app installed. The sensor measures how much you sweat while watching different videos, and sends the data to the smartphone which then uploads the data to the Sensum website. Then you can play back the video overlaid with a graph that shows just what made you jump.

You are also given a score for how much you engaged with what you saw, which you can compare to others’. That gamification aspect is addictive. “You’re getting rewarded for taking part,” says Sensum’s Gawain Morrison. It works – I found myself wanting to be sweatier for the first time ever, just so that I could feel more emotionally sensitive.

But the data isn’t just collected and gamified, it can be used to change what you’re watching in real time too. Last year Morrison’s Belfast-based production company Filmtrip launched their interactive short horror film Unsound at SXSW, which responded to the audience’s excitement – measured by their GSR and heart rate – by making the footage even gorier and the music more tense. “The physiology of the user shapes their entertainment experience,” says Morrison.

Now that the technology has become mobile it can be rolled out on a much broader scale. “The mobile version allows us so much more room,” says Morrison. “You can do proper deep-level immersion stuff and physiology encryption. If you go to a film with one of these devices on you’re going to come out of that with data unique to you. For an alternate reality game tied into a film you then have totally personal physiological encryption.”

Morrison foresees the platform being used to unlock content – be it games, comic books or extra plot – that is personally tailored for each viewer. “You’re getting a personal reward for engaging with the film,” he says. “All the further content is led by how you engaged with it.”

Bringing it back to its origins, though, Filmtrip is working with science-fiction novelist Ian McDonald on the script of a feature-length film with multiple endings where physiological markers from the audience will change the film’s music, special effects, character paths and even the ending.

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