We're all familiar with market research strategies – companies are desperate to know what makes consumers tick; they'll data mine to any sanctioned lengths (and sometimes further) to find out.

Mindful that the promise of demonstrably effective market research can loosen corporate pocket strings, one restaurant is capitalizing on this hunger.

Based in Holland, The Restaurant of the Future keeps track of its customers' every move: what they choose, how much they eat, even what facial expressions they make during the meal.

Watch the Restaurant of the Future
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Enjoying your salami sandwich more than your broccoli? They take note. Apparently the length of time for which you chew is indicative of your enjoyment of the food.

Does your heart beat increase when you take a spoonful of that chocolate mousse? They know if it does -- your chair measures this.

Grimace a bit as you shovel that squash into your mouth? Facial recognition technology tracks your expressions.

Like the candles or fresh flowers at your table? Your attention to the ambience is noted as they track your eyes.

Reportedly, the overall reaction from diners is positive. In spite of the fact that certain obtrusive mechanisms -- such as a weighing scale that customers are asked to step on in order to determine the co relation between weight and diners' eating habits -- are in place, most customers told ABC News that they did not feel like their privacy was being infringed upon.

My first reaction was surprise that anyone would voluntarily choose to go to a restaurant that in ABC's words is "one giant laboratory" and the diners "human lab rats." Why would you voluntarily pay to be a market research tool? (People sign a consent form agreeing to be watched.)

While this appears be met by little resistance in the land that spawned Big Brother, I'm curious as to whether such a concept would be passively accepted here in the US. It's an original concept, and could certainly provide valuable data, but I personally wouldn't want someone tracking my feeding patterns.

Posted by Saabira Chaudhuri at December 12, 2007 2:21 PM

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