Belfast-based start-up Sensum gets £600k for device that can read our minds
A company which employs skin sensor technology to monitor the impact of marketing and advertising has just received investment topping £600,000.
Neuromarketing pioneer Sensum has secured early-stage funding to help advertisers gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns through new-age technological advances.
The Belfast-based start-up company said the significant early-stage investment will enable it to launch its wearable product from beta-testing to mainstream commercial use.
The product aims to equip users with the ability to assess the true effectiveness of advertisements, marketing campaigns and branding aesthetics by measuring the actual physiological and emotional effects their content has upon an audience.
Sensum has run several successful trials with global brands and has now announced an initial grant worth £107k from the Technology Strategy Board.
That financial pat on the back has been supplemented by venture capital funding worth £200k from eSynergy, which manages Invest NI's Investment Growth Fund.
Additional private investment has also rained down on them from leading Northern Ireland investors, who have been won over by the potential of the firm's innovative technology
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Sensum was actually established following an interactive film project developed for the South by South-West film festival, an annual event based in Austen, Texas.
Local trials have been done at Belfast's QFT, the Belfast Media Festival and the North West 200 road race.
The responses of Oscar-winning director Terry George, actors from Game of Thrones and Dr Who actor, David Tennant, have even been collected via Sensum sensors on various testing initiatives.
Sensum is packaged as "the first mobile insights tool that incorporates neuroscience, traditional market research and innovative visualisations, to understand the true value of your audience's emotional response data wherever they are".
"With this increased awareness you can make more effective decisions, enhance creativity and significantly improve your audience engage," according to company CEO Gawain Morrison.
He explained: "Advertisers and marketers are crying out for accurate means of proving the true value of audience responses to their content.
"We can help them develop a detailed picture of how viewers respond to a given piece of material and, consequently, how effective it is likely to be.
"The reaction we get when we trial with both brands and their agencies has been incredible; they see the potential immediately and we're looking forward to some exciting projects."
Some of the trials employed to test the technology and its dramatic effects have included the world's highest profile brands, including Coca Cola.
During a project test of the soft drink's iconic Christmas adverts, Sensum revealed how audiences' interest varied dramatically throughout the ads.
The product was able to identify that a 60-second advert held the attention of viewers very well – but only in the first half.
Showing waining attention in the second half, the sensors showed the company that they could have slashed their commercial to 30 seconds – to the same effect – allowing them to deploy their resources in other ways.
Sensum's non-executive director and head of global research company Serco's ExperienceLab, Owen Daly-Jones, said everyone involved was very excited "to see such a significant level of early-stage investment in Sensum".
"These are smart investors who've been wowed by the technology and its potential.
"Big brands are just starting to include neuromarketing in their advertising testing as the insights from the data it produces are incredibly powerful.
"Sensum is very well placed to profit from it," he added.
Initial grant from the Technology Strategy Board given to Sensum