Can facial-recognition assist in gift giving?
EBay opened a two-day pop-up in London last week with the claim that it was the first store to use facial recognition to help shoppers decide on holiday gifts.
Shoppers in private booths were told to think of someone they wanted to buy a gift for as they were then shown a series of 12 product images for about 10 seconds each in two cycles. Cameras then measured facial expressions and how long individuals looked at each gift to determine which ones they had the strongest feelings for. The process took around five minutes. Shoppers later received via email a list of products they “emotionally resonated” with the most.
The pop-up followed an eBay study that detailed how stress affects holiday giving. Among the findings:
- Heartrates increase 33 percent in participants while Christmas shopping — on par with running a marathon.
- Eighty-eight percent experience tachycardia, when heartbeats rise over 100 beats per minute — similar to taking a kickboxing class.
- Sixty percent hit a “wall of disenchantment” in only 32 minutes of holiday shopping, when engagement and interest levels drop and never recover.
The study touted the benefits of High Intensity Interval Shopping (H.I.I.S.), or shorter bursts of shopping that leave shoppers less stressed and able to focus on more meaningful purchases.
“Bite size browsing, such as taking 10 minutes to shop via mobile on commute or purchasing single items during a lunch break, can decrease stress and promote more mindful shopping,” said the U.K.’s retail director at eBay, Rhian Bartlett, in a statement.
While the overall project was designed to show the benefits of periodic online browsing, gaining more attention was the use of biometrics to support stress-free shopping at the pop-up. Beyond facial motions, the cameras measured “micro-expressions” to explore how viewers subconsciously reacted to product.
“’We’re constantly looking to innovate and push the boundaries,” said Julia Hutton-Potts, director of communications at eBay Marketplaces, U.K., of the technology used in the pop-up. “I think it’s really exciting. This could well be the way that everyone is shopping in the future.”
- Christmas Shopping Is As Pressurised As Running A Marathon – eBay
- EBay pop-up uses biometrics to ease gift-buying stress – Retail Dive
- The world’s first emotionally-powered store from Ebay showed us how the brain works while Christmas shopping – Business Insider
- Is THIS the future of shopping? eBay pop-up tells you which Christmas presents to buy based on your facial reactions – Daily Mail
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your reaction to eBay’s use of facial recognition technology to help consumers decide on what gifts to give? Do you see a promising future in retail for the practice of gauging the subconscious interest of shoppers?