With it raining constantly and the mammoth meme Barbienheimer conquering the internet, all anyone’s thinking about at the moment is the cinema. From the luxury of Everyman on Whiteladies Road to the fiercely independent Watershed by the harbour, alongside your more casual Odeon and Showcase, there are some great cinemas too in Bristol. But the city will gain one more cinema that’s a little different from what we already have.
The world’s first cinema where audience reactions are scientifically measured in real-time is coming to Bristol next year. Get jumpy during horror movies? Swoon at rom-coms? Or just big-belly laugh every time you see Seth Rogen? The Instrumented Auditorium will be able to tell.
The University of Bristol received £400,000 from the Wolfson Foundation to launch the cinema at the Coal Shed in Avon Street, which will be part of MyWorld creative hub. The Instrumented Auditorium is expected to open in May next year. Don’t expect huge crowds, however, as there’s only room for 36 audience members to have their responses monitored.
But how will the Instrumented Auditorium work?
The cinema will be a controlled environment, where scientists will monitor things like your heart rate, eye movement, brain activity, and even the electrical properties of people’s skin. Basically, recording your biometric responses to what you see and hear on the big screen. The hope is to be able to track people’s subconscious emotional and sympathetic responses.
As is standard practice in the industry, film studios often have test screenings for upcoming blockbusters. Asking audiences for feedback in the form of questionnaires. But as you can imagine, these can be a little… unreliable. Technology like this will be able to monitor real responses in real-time. These new insights may even come to shape the future of cinema.
Iain Gilchrist, Professor of Neuropsychology at the University of Bristol, said: “If we want to understand whether a new experience or new technology is working, we have to ask the audience. The Instrumented Auditorium will allow us to stream data that captures audience responses moment by moment, providing unique insights that take us way beyond current questionnaire-based methods.”
It’s not going to just be the latest Tom Cruise blockbuster or whatever Barbienheimer copy studios try to come up with next. Audiences will also be subjected to things like TV adverts and therapy videos. While future applications could look at individual differences in response to mental health; the possibilities are endless for this first-it-is-kind technology.
So what do you think? Fancy being strapped up, poked, prodded and intensely watched next time you want to go to the cinema? Yeah, we’re not so sure about it either.