The world's first emotionally-powered store from Ebay showed us how the brain works while Christmas shopping

EbayEbay is using facial coding technology to show how the brain works when you’re Christmas shopping.

If the footage of this year’s Black Friday chaos is anything to go by, shopping for gifts might be the most stressful thing about Christmas. Now, we have scientific evidence to support this.

Ebay has teamed up with US tech firm Lightwave to create the world’s first “emotionally-powered store” in London, which uses facial coding technology to decide the Christmas presents you should buy for your loved ones.

According to Ebay, which used the same technology to study how the brain works while we shop for gifts, it can take just half an hour of online browsing to lose motivation.

To resolve this issue, the store — which launched on Tuesday December 1 and will run for two days — contains interactive screens which show customers range of gift ideas in a short space of time, at the same time measuring facial expressions and how long individuals spend looking at each gift to measure their emotional response.

Here’s how it works.

Ebay has installed cubicles with interactive screens in its new Oxford Circus store. Customers can use these 'biometric pods' to find out which gifts will be the most emotionally satisfying to give.

Edith Hancock

To use the service, customers should 'go in with an open mind, and concentrate on the person they're shopping for,' Tanya Lawler, a Vice President at Ebay, told Business Insider. I thought about my mum and dad, who tend to buy themselves the things they need, so aren't the easiest people to buy gifts for.

Ebay

Once you've signed in with your name, age, and email address, a series of 12 gift ideas are presented, while cameras inside the booth monitor your facial expressions. The whole process takes around five minutes.

Edith Hancock

You then have the option to look through the items again. At this point, the cameras are reading how long you spend on each page, as well as how you react to a specific gift.

Edith Hancock

Once you're done, the pod automatically sends you an email listing the gifts that appealed to you most. My parents already own a digital camera, so it looks like my mum is getting wellies, and my dad is getting an electric razor.

Edith Hancock

Of course, you don't have to get the top items listed, but the service does offer an insight into the types of gifts that a customer might want to buy for their loved ones.

While the booths display just 12 gift ideas, Ebay's physical store allows you to purchase up to 150 selected items, with a small portion of the profits going to a number of charities.

At the heart of the store is a constantly changing infographic, which combines the facial coding data collected from every customer and displays how they're feeling.

Ebay

Ebay and Lightwave found that, on average, people often hit a 'wall of disenchantment' just 32 minutes into their annual Christmas shop. Lawler said that after this time, 'giving becomes transactional,' and the thought no longer counts when it comes to making a purchase.

Ebay

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