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BBC will scan viewers’ faces while they watch TV

It’s a bit like 1984. And by ‘a bit’, we mean ‘exactly’…

The BBC is going to scan the faces of viewers to make sure they’re enjoying TV content.

The broadcaster began trials of the technology last year, but will now press ahead with plans to formally adopt the facial-coding software, as reported by the Independent.

The system is developed by British start-up CrowdEmotion, which uses cameras to record a viewer’s facial expressions.

From these recordings, software works out the individual’s main emotion at any given second, divided into six categories: happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, puzzlement, and rejection.

Watch CrowdEmotion’s take on the ‘Emotional Baby’:

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CrowdEmotion has partnered with BBC Worldwide’s Insight division to test how viewers respond to a given television show.

The BBC has already conducted a pilot test that measured 5,000 people’s emotions in response to marketing campaigns on BBC.com.

BBC Worldwide also tested the technology using 200 webcams installed in British homes. These webcams gauged reaction to TV shows like Sherlock. Other BBC trials have also taken place in far-flung locations like Russia and Australia.

It’s not yet clear how BBC hopes to roll out the technology, or which TV shows will be subject to viewer testing. We’ve asked the BBC for comment on the matter, and will update this article with any response.

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