Google Glass - the future of our user research

by Trenton Moss on 1 April 2013

We're delighted to announce today that Webcredible has taken the decision to use Google Glass for all of our research activities, recording real-time customer behaviour for our clients 24/7. The research techniques that we've typically used over the years - interviews, focus groups, diary studies, ethnography - are all great but have one main limitation: We can only track what people are doing for a short period of time. Until now that is, where we can offer our clients 24/7 access to their customers.

How it works

We've developed an application that enables us to live stream video from Google Glass. Our application tracks tiny movements in the cornea – the part of the eye which does the focusing – and records on to our computers exactly where participants' eyes are looking. When we compare this to the live streamed footage we get a map of how participants view the world (and your products)! A team of our consultants have been working 24/7 in shifts to analyse participants' every move. Sounds a bit Big Brother-esque? It is! Our biggest concern was that participants would remove their glasses so we've set it up so they're delivered a short sharp electric shock if the glasses are removed. At first we thought this was a bit harsh but we've had our lawyers come up with a pretty robust waiver for participants to sign. This is especially important for participants that have pacemakers. One of our first guinea pig participants, ironically called Crystal Glass, told us:

"It took some getting used to wearing the glasses all the time, especially when sleeping. I soon learnt not to remove them or knock them off in my sleep though as the electric shocks were quite painful! I'm glad I could contribute to this research study nonetheless."

Why we're doing this

Participants wear the glasses for 2-3 weeks and we collate huge amounts of information during this period. We then analyse the raw data and  produce a report to give our clients a detailed understanding of how they can best cater for (and/or exploit) potential and existing customers. Other exciting things we're finding out include:

  • Glass’s ability to take photos and video with a "you are there" view really excites us. It captures moments, events, actions just the way the participant sees it.
  • Preliminary tests suggest that Glass is not an invasive piece of tech (at least to everything other than privacy) and we expect research participants  to literally forget we are following their every move.
  • Based on where participants are looking and for how long (as well as numerous other metrics) we're able to judge moods to certain events, objects and products. It's now possible to test products and services over a significant period of time with high levels of accuracy.
  • Our clients can have participants sent tasks direct to the retina display using Glass's in built messaging features.

Privacy concerns

There's of course been a lot of talk lately about Google Glass and the associated privacy debate, which we've followed carefully. We interviewed all of the participants about the experience and they generally seemed OK with it. One of our early beta testers, Mona Lott, mentioned that it took some getting used to wearing Google Glass: "I didn't feel that wearing the glasses was... necessary while I went to the bathroom. However, I was assured that all footage was confidential and the electric shocks ensured that I complied." Despite the privacy concerns and our increased electricity bills we've still opted to go ahead with using Google Glass for all our research (our lawyers really did write an excellent waiver for participants to sign). Apparently the shocks were painful and have led to injuries - rest assured, we are investigating these claims but again, thanks to our lawyers, we should be fine whatever the outcome. By way of compensation for the invasion of privacy, we offer an increased incentive to participants if we capture any... ahem... intimate moments.

In conclusion... Big Brother research is the future!

Despite the privacy issues we believe Google Glass provides an invaluable opportunity for our clients. We're now in the process of replacing all our research methods with this new technology, providing our clients with a 360 degree view of customer behaviour. Tell us what you think about our bold decision to use Google Glass for all research - comment below or Tweet us @webcredible with hashtag #BigBrotherResearchWithElectricShocks.

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