Augmented reality: a cleaner motivational response

 In applied neuroscience, arousal, complexity, EEG, emotion, environment, in-store, motivation

If you haven’t heard, Lowe’s have recently launched the Holoroom. Yes, it’s a completely new and innovative way of decorating your room, and finding the right things for your room, long before you have even seen the product in real life. I’ll let Kyle Nel, Director of the Lowe’s Innovation Lab (LIL), explain it:

 

 

As part of Neurons Inc’s role at the LIL, we tested the augmented reality part of the Holodeck. How did customers respond to the augmented reality solution? On the one hand, one would hope that this innovative solution would make it easier and more enjoyable to customers.

However, on the other hand, one could fear that customers would find the novel solution too disruptive and even disturbing, leading to avoidance behaviour.

In trying to understand this, we recorded participants’ brain responses using EEG while they went through the exploration and purchasing phase of the augmented reality version, and the real store version. By combining the EEG measure with eye-tracking, we could assess millisecond responses in terms of visual attention, arousal, motivation and cognitive load.

Here, we found that compared to the real store environment, the augmented reality (AR) was different on three specific counts:

  1. The motivation scores were HIGHER
  2. Motivation scores were more consistent (i.e., showed less variance)
  3. Cognitive Load was significantly lower

 

Augmented reality and brains

Augmented reality provides higher and more consistent motivational scores compared to real store test. The example shown was taken from when customers were exploring and purchasing a sink for their bathroom. Here, we used the Prefrontal Asymmetry Index (PAI) to assess approach-avoidance motivation in minute detail.

 

Together, these findings suggest that augmented reality leads to lower cognitive “noise” and a stronger positive motivation. This was paralleled by the customers’ own responses that the AR condition was more enjoyable (they often started giggling).

Our results demonstrate that AR, when done correctly, can provide a positive boost in customers’ product and purchasing experience. Our study also provides one of the first of it’s kind of applying neuroscience tools to study augmented reality.

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