Mapping Engagement in the Home

Deb Roy, an MIT researcher, recently gave a fantastic TED talk about his sons speech development. Roy installed video cameras in every room of his house and recorded - for over five and a half years - every movement, word and step his son took. During his TED talk, he shows how his son goes from 'Gaga' to 'Water' over the course of a year. Take a quick watch here:

What I found most interesting about this talk, though, was how the system mapped television content to the discussions that happened in the living room. In one excellent scene, we see how some normal TV shows - Jersey Shore, an NBA game, Grey's Anatomy, etc - not only drive the conversations that occur in the physical space but also influence the words that a child learns. While this might not seem surprising, the technology used to map this insight truly is.

We all know that popular shows drive conversations not only in the home, but at work the next day, in the pubs and other spaces we visit. Watching Roy actually map these conversations - from the medium to the physical space - allows us to actually see the engagement rates, by program, over the course of 5 years.

If we all had Roy's camera system, media companies could finally find a new metric and kill the GRP.