The window to your soul with eye tracking–VR Days Day 2 takeway

posted in: Ethics, Events | 3


It’s the 2nd day of the VR Days conference and we’ve changed venue to this funky warehouse location. I spent the morning listening to sessions on VR training but it’s the set of afternoon sessions on “Use Your Brain 4.0” that got me thinking.


I found the session about BrainVu which ”uses a non-invasive and remote smartphone/AR/VR camera to extract physiological bio-markers that indicate changes in brain activities and deduce human mental responses including: processing Cognitive Load, Stress Level and Emotional Engagement. The calculated human states are then correlated to events and used to  connect to a multitude of platforms  to provide human machine emotional interaction.”

Before we got into that the idea of subliminal messaging (or messages below the threshold of normal perception) was discussed. In many countries this is banned. I went and double checked an YES Australia is on that list:

preventing the broadcasting of programs that:

                              (i)  simulate news or events in a way that misleads or alarms the audience; or

                             (ii)  depict the actual process of putting a person into a hypnotic state; or

                            (iii)  are designed to induce a hypnotic state in the audience; or

                            (iv)  use or involve the process known as subliminal perception or any other technique that attempts to convey information to the audience by broadcasting messages below or near the threshold of normal awareness;”

There were some interesting points in these sessions around the use of colour and light to enhance memory retention, but also the use of cameras to extract biomarkers and see what the user is thinking etc.  As someone with the absolute worst poker face, the ability for my eyes to additionally give away my thoughts set off some alarm bells. I started to think of the scene in Blade Runner looking into the eyes with questions to decide if the person was real or a replicant.


The discussions on eye tracking and what you can tell about a person hit home a bit more when I wandered into the Church of VR where there are large groups of people trying various experiences.  I know lots of my data gets tracked every day. A lot of it I knowingly “give” by putting it on the internet, using my credit card etc. but should my true thoughts and feelings be mined – things I can’t turn off or consciously control. Even though I bought a $100 pair of shoes to wear to work, should I give up the fact I was secretly dying to buy the $300 pair (or not so secretly if this eye tracking thing works). There’s something about my inner-most thoughts that I feel should stay just that…inner-most.

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