Going to the movies? Prepare to be watched while you watch

Gaining entry to some movie theaters lately gives patrons an experience that is on par with going through a TSA security checkpoint at the airport. Then once you’ve gained access, there are cameras strategically positioned that record your every move. Unfortunately, the extent to which these companies monitor movie-goers is only going to get worse.

In an effort to further combat piracy, some cinemas have incorporated the use of an infrared scanning system that detects recording devices in the audience and if detected, sounds an alarm to alert management. Now the company that offers those services, Aralia Systems, is working to enhance the system by incorporating technology which will scan and read the audiences’ physical expressions and emotions.


Aralia Systems is teaming up with Machine Vision Lab of the University of the West of England to develop the technology to turn their anti-piracy devices into a dual-purpose system that will gather data about how the crowd reacts to what they’re seeing at any particular moment.

“Within the cinema industry this tool will feed powerful marketing data that will inform film directors, cinema advertisers and cinemas with useful data about what audiences enjoy and what adverts capture the most attention. By measuring emotion and movement film companies and cinema advertising agencies can learn so much from their audiences that will help to inform creativity and strategy,” Dr. Abdul Farooq from Machine Vision Lab told TorrentFreak.


Personally, I’m growing tired of everything that I do being monitored for the benefit of some company’s marketing research. With the increasing digitization of media along with the use of social networking, it’s becoming more difficult to escape the intense data mining that seems to be everywhere you turn. Now, rather than using sales numbers, the movie industry wants to scan our physical reactions too? The idea seems overly invasive to me, and I wonder just how much the data would allow the industry to improve the experience, if at all.

What do you think? Is monitoring audience reactions going too far?

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