Visual Space: Re-engineering the Viewing Experience

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Even a regular movie watcher would recognize Dolby as one of the sound and video pioneers in the film industry. Many, however, are still unaware of the company’s investments in biophysical research. If you knew, then you’d know that it’s set to change the way we’ll be watching movies.

I find that the best movies are the most immersive ones; those whose images and ideas linger in your mind hours after the movie has ended. There’s just something about a great storyline that is complemented with a strong attempt of emotional connection. In that moment of connection is when nightmares are birthed; when empathy induces a heartbreak; and when that tingly feeling builds up to that kilig moment.

Well, Dolby is banking on these emotions. Included in their study is research on movie viewers’ physiological and perceptual systems.In theory, the more impactful the responses we get from watching films, the more immersive and more effective the film could be.

Ever since Dolby’s entry in the film industry, it’s been investing on technologies that enhance the filmic experience. If you’ve stayed until the very end of the movie for that Easter egg surprise, or have intentionally stayed to pay respects to the creators of the film, then you would’ve noticed Dolby as one of the audio-visual handlers. Dolby, however, was never known for creating its own content, so you’d wonder why the company is investing in biophysical research in the first place.

Why Dolby is investing on biophysical research
Beyond their familiar name in the sound and movie industry, further research will reveal that Dolby has expanded to projection systems, virtual reality, and most recently, biophysical research. Why Dolby is investing a ton on research and development, especially in the area of biophysical research is really no question. In this day and age, growth, and not to mention information, is power. Thus, it is a wise speculation, and a soon to be apparent truth that Dolby will use its gathered results and data to better market its products.

Emotions are powerful aspects of human connection and manipulation. If Dolby can prove what elements of a film prove to be the most effective in eliciting emotions that filmmakers’ initially intend, then investors and members of the film industry may be enticed to purchase Dolby’s innovative technologies. For movie watchers, this hints of more movies that can better connect with your emotions.

How Dolby is looking into your mind, emotion, and thoughts
What’s amazing about technology is that it’s now able to precisely record and analyze human reactions. A sweaty palm could mean the feeling of apprehension or anxiousness; a quick heartbeat, the feeling of fear. Yet, it’s not as simple as it sounds—there are many nuances to be observed. An increase in heart rate could mean a feeling of love, fear, or something entirely different. In collecting data, precision is key especially when there’s a high chance of conflict.

Behind Dolby’s biophysical research is a team of scientists tasked to study the physical and emotional responses of viewers toward different factors. It is in Dolby laboratories where they are tasked to study on the perceptual system, and how our senses react to different stimuli.

While different images, colors, scenes, and many others are flashed on screen, Dolby’s scientists
record a series of reactions via different tools. These include a hand sensor that tracks the galvanic skin response (GSR) or how emotional stimuli affects the sweat glands, and the nervous system; a 64-channel biosensor system thatmeasures brainwaves; EEG caps; thermal imaging Flir cameras, heart rate monitors and many more.

Ushering in the future of content
It’s not a matter of how, but of when this technology will be implemented to future content creation. Data that Dolby collects and analyzes could prove to be to be useful in the future creation of films, games and more. One thing to look forward to are content created through a computation of human emotion, experience, and arousal. It’s then safe to expect enhanced and amplified films and games in the future.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE September 2017 Issue
Words by Gerry Gaviola