How and why data is collected during immersive experiences?
Crédits photos : Arteum (Unsplash)
Data currently raises a lot of questions: what data is collected? How is the data used by companies? What impact does it have on our private lives? Data raises questions because it is everywhere! Without realising it, we provide information to companies. The XR industry has seized on this new source of information. Solution providers are using data to design even more immersive experiences.
We have all accepted or refused cookies at some point when browsing a website. These cookies are a source of information for the site owner. By agreeing to share them with him, we, the users, provide him with clues about our browsing behaviour, our digital identity, etc. All this personal data is then used for advertising purposes.
Without realising it, we provide digital data. This data represents a major challenge for companies today. Beyond its marketing use, it can help to identify a customer’s behaviour (his or her wants, demands, needs) and therefore improve a company’s offer and services. Collecting data to enrich the user experience; this is also the challenge of data in the XR industry. What data is collected? What technology is used for this collection? What is the purpose of all this data?
Data and XR: from visualisation to the search for data
When we talk about data in the world of virtual reality, we systematically think of data visualisation. This use has been common in several industries for some years now. In the world of energy, agents use augmented reality headsets to see the locations of underground gas or electricity networks. In architecture, data visualisation is ideal for visualising a construction project before it is built. In medicine, the method can be used to design drugs more quickly by visualising the structure of complex molecules, and to see a patient’s data to prepare for a high-risk operation.
In particular, data visualisation has saved a considerable amount of time, as a result of a reduction in errors and miscalculations. But beyond the concrete visualisation of data, XR professionals have identified other interesting uses. Today, data collection can be used to improve immersive experiences. On both the supplier and user sides, data is becoming an undeniable support to offer personalised and relevant experiences.
Marketing and training: sectors transformed by data
In the world of XR, data has potential for analysis and optimisation. By collecting data on user behaviour, an immersive solution can be significantly improved. Based on this perspective, two business areas stand out: marketing and training. What is the use of data in these two professional areas?
In marketing, data collection is changing things. In the past, analysts relied on focus groups, surveys and questionnaires to get feedback. Today, it is possible to collect data on the behaviour of customers directly during their purchase. It is now possible to identify a customer’s commitment to a product, what influences their purchase, what attracts them most in terms of marketing.
In the training sector, it is interesting to collect data on the user’s decisions. During an immersive experience, we can have involuntary reactions, furtive glances, an acceleration of the heart rate. For trainers, these are also clues to identify the skills of a learner. It is a new reference system that comes into play in the world of training.
How is data collected during an XR experience?
Eye-tracking, biofeedback, biometric data… These three terms are associated with data collection during an immersive experience. To collect data in this environment, it is necessary to rely on the body and behavioural reactions of users. This means analysing heart rate, eye movements, body gestures etc. These data provide clues about the decisions that the user has made or will make. To collect all this data, several methods are used.
Eye-tracking allows us to follow the movements of the eyes. Thanks to this technology, we are able to know where the user’s eyes landed. In the field of marketing, we can see where a customer has looked, what type of content has caught their eye. During a training course, it is a good indicator of whether the learner has analysed all the elements in his environment before making a decision.
Physiological data is also interesting to collect and use during an immersive experience. This involves capturing heart rate, breathing and body temperature: this is called biofeedback. This data is then used to update the immersive experience in real time. This technique is widely used in the world of therapy and rehabilitation, for stress management, phobias, anxiety, etc. This data can be captured through wearables or suits such as the Teslasuit.
Biometric data: more natural and personalised experiences
Biometric data, including movements and gestures, are captured by sensors on or around the user’s body. One of the first advantages is that the real data can be sent into the virtual world. This is the very principle of motion capture. It is also a way, once again, to analyse consumer behaviour.
Biometric data is increasingly used for authentication purposes, but not only. Eye-tracking, lip-tracking, and biometric data in general, are all tools that promote “naturalness” in virtual environments as well as in virtual humans. Thanks to real-time capture, they considerably improve XR experiences.
The data we share is therefore not limited to our identity. It also includes our behaviours and reactions, both intended and unintended. All this data is a goldmine for suppliers of immersive experiences, who can therefore optimise them to the highest degree. For users, the question of the protection and reuse of this data naturally arises. How can we ensure the protection of the data we transmit about ourselves? This is one of the main issues of the Laval Virtual Days: XR Data, on 18 May in the Laval Virtual World. Registration is free!