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Travel agency to scan client subconscious thoughts

October 20, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A British travel company has unveiled a new technology designed to analyse facial expressions in a bid to design travel itineraries based not on stated intentions but on subconscious thoughts.

Europe’s giant TUI group has harnessed new tech, dubbed Destination U, to identify destinations that travellers really desire, rather than ones they feel they should visit for various other reasons.

This requires the cooperation of potential customers, by the way.

According to an intriguing story in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Destination U works by using the power of new “emotionally intelligent” software, developed by RealEyes, which directs cameras at 149 different points on the face (concentrating mainly on the mouth, eyes and the forehead) to identify and analyse subtle facial reactions.

Subconscious choice of perfect travel destination. Now where is it again?

The surveillance is conducted while the subject watches a two-minute video showing people engaged in different travel activities, such as bushwalking, skiing, lying around on the beach and so on.

So will clients making the wrong twitch be sent up a mountain, whether they want to go or not?

No, that’s not how it works. TUI is just seeking clues to subconscious feelings about each destination to help prospective travellers sort through the endlessly increasing jungle of travel destinations, activities, places to stay, themes, possibilities and so on. There’s a demo of it here:

RealEyes, founded at Oxford University 10 years ago, specialises in using webcams to measure emotional responses. Its founders reckon 90% of decision-making is done subconsciously.

“Could you be repressing your true holiday desires?” That’s the angle.

More than 600 retail travel stores on British high streets are currently rebranding from Thomson to TUI and Destination U certainly serves to focus attention on the new name.

So is it all a gimmick? Who knows, but the technology and methodology is sound and it looks more fun than filling in a questionnaire.

Written by Peter Needham

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