As market researchers we not only have to consider the impact of current technology, but also think about the affect of future technology on our industry. Last week Google unveiled Project Glass, a potentially game-changing new technology that augments your view of the world through the functionality of your smart phone. According to the New York Times, it’s an “augmented-reality display that would sit over the eye and run on the Android mobile platform.” Think glasses that interact with what you’re seeing and act as a digital hub, streaming all sorts of information to your eyes in real-time. Its introductory video went viral and though I’m ineligible as a beta tester, it has me thinking about its impact on market research.
While current virtual shopping and eye-tracking platforms exist, they have their limitations. Most of these vehicles require that respondents sit at a computer and interact with the stimuli on a screen. “Google Glasses” could provide a much more precise and accurate reading, as they interact with the respondent directly and allow consumption to be much more natural. Researchers could explore and test virtually anything by collecting real-time video diaries, easily, and in a less invasive manner than ever before. Consumers would simply follow the research instructions and record what the glasses capture, no other cameras or mechanisms necessary. Imagine being able to view the world directly from the eyes of a consumer, observing their step-by-step shopping experience. Researchers could see exactly what a dad with two kids is doing in a grocery store; they could watch which aisles he visits, which shelves he looks at, what he notices on a product package, and whether or not he really reads the nutrition labels. This would open up a whole new world of ethnographic research.
Beyond giving researchers an open window into consumers’ lives, Project Glass could also offer a more dynamic and seamless way for researchers to interact with respondents and send stimuli. How much easier would things be if any form of communication or imagery was literally in front of a respondent’s eyes in seconds?
Of course, all this could be a fantasy, or at the very least a few years away. But the fun thing about budding innovation is that its possibilities are only limited by one’s creativity. We’re curious. How would you envision this technology applied to market research? Leave your thoughts below.