The .AI Life: Disney To Track Real Time Cinemagoers’ Reaction With Artificial Intelligence


Movie studios before launching new releases test out how the audience may react to them, but it seems Disney is taking it a step further with their latest innovation technology.

According to CBC, when you sit in to watch the latest Disney movie it will be watching you as well… While this may seem like a step towards a more responsive story telling that is molded according to the likes and dislikes of the audience, it also raises some red flags regarding the collection of personal data.

Disney Research, at a conference in July presented a new process called factorized variational autoencoders (FVAEs). In easier words, it basically measures complex audience reactions by assessing facial expressions.

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This software is trained to watch an audience of hundreds of faces in a darkened theatre, and to track their reactions: Are they smiling or crying? Bored or asleep, even? Through this Disney Research was able to generate far more data than human intelligence is able to process. In their tests, they generated 16 million data points derived from 3,179 viewers.

The FVAE not only measures reactions, but according to Disney Research it can also predict them as well. By observing an audience member’s reactions for just a few minutes, the system is able to predict his or her facial expressions for the rest of the film using a pattern-recognition technique that functions similarly to a recommendation engine; it can generalize the reactions of an entire audience, and measure those reactions against an input that states how viewers “should” be reacting.

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This mechanism is already being used by Disney owned marvel in Iron Man to Captain America, basically Marvel has been able to use big data to keep track of the detailed story world that unites its comic book characters, identifying the most important ones and those with the strongest fan loyalty.