Technology in Research

Posted by: Anonymous

26th Mar 2021 11:16am

The use of technology in surveys is growing. So, as more surveys involve some level of technology, we went to the source and asked our Caféstudy members what they thought about a select few emerging technologies. These were:

  • Visual tracking (tracks the activity of the eye on the screen)
  • Facial recognition (can verify or identify a person via face mapping or scanning)
  • Sensory research (analyses the brain using brain waves, heart rates, and skin responses to products)
  • Scanning technology (customers carry their mobiles in the supermarket, through these they can scan the item they want to buy and see the available offers/track their purchases and location).

We asked them how comfortable they felt with these technologies being used in paid studies and what would convince them to use it, whether it be better financial compensation or more transparency around how their data would be used.

An uneasy feeling

The majority of members did feel some level of uneasiness about these new technologies being used in paid studies, whilst some were completely uncomfortable. Many believe private companies don’t have their best interests at heart with the risk of their data being sold or misused. In addition to this, there are often news stories talking about private companies being cyber attacked or privacy breaches. For these members, the perceived benefits for researchers or businesses don’t outweigh the risks for the individuals involved.

"I feel very uncomfortable with this and I think there are privacy issues. Not in favour of it at all."

"If it was disclosed that such technologies would be used in a survey at the beginning of it, I would choose not to participate. No extra incentive would convince me, because I value a degree of privacy and anonymity. All surveys will ever gain from me are insights based on my answers and demographics."

"I am not at all comfortable with this development. I am concerned about privacy and the risk of hackers."

"No amount of so-called incentives is worth losing your identity."

More data, more problems

Members who were inclined to use these technologies did so with reservations. To get them to participate, companies would need to guarantee member’s data privacy, be very transparent about how the research would be collected and who it would be shared with, as well as including greater financial incentives to subsidise the risk involved. Members believe they should be compensated in a way that matches the amount of value their responses give brands.

"I would expect more money for the convenience at least $20 for those types of surveys."

"I have no problem with this as long as it is clear upfront how your information will be collected, how it is handled (including who it might be shared with, and when it is destroyed)."

"More incentives would probably entice people to use these newer technologies."

Education is key

A common thread amongst responses was that they would need to feel well-informed about what technology would be used before making an educated decision about whether or not to partake.

"I think some of my hesitations is not understanding the technology well and not sure what the implications are. So I tend to err on the side of not allowing because it feels safer."

"I would be happy to use these new technologies doing surveys as long as they were explained in a clear and easy-to-understand manner before completing the activities so that an informed choice could be made as to whether I would feel comfortable."

A mixed bag of comfort

Members were mixed in which particular technologies they were comfortable with and which ones they weren’t. While some were fine with Visual Tracking, others found it the most concerning. And some members saw Facial Recognition as an invasion of privacy, others saw it as a technology that is already widely accepted by the world, with Face ID used by many to open smartphones.

"I will not be comfortable at all if online surveys can read my brain waves or have access to information I haven’t permitted to process. I would feel more comfortable using this technology if I know I can control or block the scanning and tracking technologies whenever I wish."

"New techniques such as Facial Recognition for verification are not new and would be easily accepted. Many consumers already use this technology for phone apps. Visual Tracking and Sensory Research both have a personal intrusive flavour. These would be harder to convince consumers of their benefit and that data security would be upheld."

Higher standards

Sensory research was one technology where members agreed there needed to be a higher standard of ethics because it may include invasive techniques and it would possibly need to be done in a more controlled environment, rather than just at home on your computer. Members did see it as a more valuable way of discovering people’s emotions, something that may be missed in paid studies.

"Sensory research sounds like there would need to be more advanced tech than I have at my disposal currently and that could preclude some people from their involvement."

"I would expect sensory research to be at a higher level and conducted within a laboratory environment or similar, at least with the same ethics and guidelines for usage/collection setup."


A small number of members were unphased by the use of technology in surveys, with some already having experienced this in action. Scanning technology, in particular, was seen as one of the easiest ways people can adopt technology into activities they already do, like grocery shopping.

"Very happy with new technology surveys, l have done Vision Technology in surveys, an interesting and entertaining and scanning technology as its rewarding to see the products and identify a person via face mapping or scanning."

"The growing use of technology in surveys is great. I have used Visual tracking and facial recognition. I am I.T. savvy so l am comfortable using the above techniques. I am happy to be convinced by getting eGift cards for completed surveys. The use of these techniques in surveys is in its infancy so l am sure they will be widely spread in the future."

So what does this mean?

In this research, members have made it clear, there is a need for robust protections for individuals’ data and privacy before researchers can implement these types of technologies into surveys. Education and transparency on how their data is used are of utmost importance if these kinds of surveys are to be successful. 

Although members are hesitant, some do see the value these techniques can bring to the results and therefore, giving consumers a better experience. 

There are obvious risks that come with choosing to implement these techniques in future surveys and/or forums. This is something Caféstudy is not looking to do at present but we appreciate your honest insights around this emerging topic.

Comments 8

  • 16th Nov 2021 10:21pm


  • 10th Oct 2021 08:57pm


  • 10th Oct 2021 08:56pm


  • 11th May 2021 11:29am

I don't mind if it's for keeping us safer or more secure. But don't like it if it invades our personal space and spies on us.

Jade Simpson
  • 28th Apr 2021 11:00pm

I would worry that less people are employed as check out operators

  • 15th Apr 2021 05:04pm

Security is important but also people should remember that online security has its faults.

  • 1st Apr 2021 09:13pm

Security is important there for I think we should all have it as we do not want people getting our personal information

  • 30th Mar 2021 07:13pm

I do prefer to have security in place to protect my identity because no one knows who can access your ID it is scary to move around anymore.