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Investment activity picks up in experimental biometrics space

Investment activity picks up in experimental biometrics space

Mercia Fund Management has committed to invest over $230,000 in UK-based facial recognition tech developer Customer Clever Ltd., according to report in Startups.co.uk. The investment will help support the tech firm’s development of an algorithm which determines gender, ethnicity, age and time of visit of retail customers.

Originally developed for homeland security applications such as border protection and terrorist detection, the algorithm is being adapted to help retail establishments better understand consumers and their habits.

Rob Johnson, an Investment Director at Mercia Fund Management, commented: “We believe the biometrics sector will experience significant growth over the next decade, and Customer Clever is well placed to take first mover advantage with this innovative application within this growth industry and potentially establish a significant market share.”

In the near term, Biometrics Research Group Inc., a leading research vendor and publisher of BiometricUpdate.com, projects that the global biometrics market will grow to US$15 billion by 2015 from its 2012 estimated value of US$7 billion, and that facial recognition will be the second largest technological modality within the sector.

Customer Clever Ltd. will reportedly use its new financing to “begin initial sales” and explore other technology adaptations to maximize its client benefits.

Adam Whitchurch, Customer Clever CEO, said: “We are grateful to Mercia for this investment. Customer Clever offers an innovative solution to help businesses improve their marketing strategy, whilst providing a tailor-made, unique shopping experience for their customers.”

In other merger and acquisition news, Nielsen recently announced that it had completed its acquisition of Boston-based neuroscience firm Innerscope Research. Nielsen will merge Innerscope with NeuroFocus, another neuromarketing research firm it purchased in 2011.

Founded in 2006 by neuroscientist Dr. Carl Marci and MIT alumnus Brian Levine, Innerscope Research specializes in biometric measurement, combining neuroscience and biometrics with its own proprietary software to measure audience engagement.

As previously reported, Innerscope Research recently published a new biometric study that finds that traditional TV commercials are four times more engaging than video advertising on Facebook, according to a report by MediaPost. Using biometric monitoring, eye-tracking and traditional survey methods, Innerscope was able to measure the nonconscious and conscious responses of 390 consumers, ages 18 to 34, to the same video advertisements across Facebook, TV and digital pre-roll on PC, tablet and smartphone. According to Innerscope, the study was a “client commissioned” survey, although it did not disclose the name of the client.

The research firm captured the biometric data using technology to record fluctuations in heart rate, skin conductance and breathing patterns.

We also reported in 2012 that Time, Inc conducted a media consumption study which utilized Innerscope’s monitoring systems. Subjects wore biometric belts as well as eye-tracking glasses to determine which form of media they were using and when visual attention was altered.

“Putting the two units together creates a scale in consumer neuroscience that is fairly unmatched,” Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience President Joe Willke told Advertising Age. Dr. Marci will serve as the chief neuroscientist of the newly branded unit, which will now be known as Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience.

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