Researchers at the University of Bristol have developed the first innovative cinema capable of monitoring audience reactions, officially called the Instrumented Auditorium.
The auditorium is a 36-seat 150m2 cinema. It has received £400,000 in funding from UK charity the Wolfson Foundation to equip it with state-of-art monitoring equipment to record data on audience members and how they react to the content they watch and listen to.
The grant enabled a controlled environment to record the audience’s biometric responses, including what they were seeing and hearing, their heart rate, eye movements, and brain activity. In addition, researchers will be able to analyze people’s subconscious emotional and empathic responses by observing the electrical properties of their skin.
These insights will promote future commissioning, directing, and production approaches for new content creation using emerging creative technologies.
The research also has enormous potential for future applications, for example, linking individual differences in mental health responses to conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Iain Gilchrist, Professor of Neuropsychology at the University of Bristol, said: “If we want to understand whether a new experience or new technology is working, we have to ask the audience.
“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.”
The auditorium will be one of the world’s leading research and development (R&D) facilities at Coal Shed on Avon Street, where MyWorld is based.
MyWorld is a creative technology research and innovation center led by the University of Bristol in partnership with 12 other organizations, including Bristol Old Vic, Watershed, Aardman Animations, BBC, and BT.
The Instrumented Auditorium will open in May 2024 at the Coal Shed in Avon Street, St Philip’s, as part of the University of Bristol’s new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus in the UK.