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FocalCast, a St. Louis-based technology startup incubated by Capital Innovators and 2016 Arch Grant Recipient, has announced the launch of their new product, Unity, a digital video solution for conducting market research and hosting focus groups remotely. The new service will offer ‘Virtual Research Rooms’ complete with live video, audio, stimuli and collaborative annotation on any phone or computer in the world with no downloads or installation required.
This new platform is based on patented technology that FocalCast has been developing over the past two years. The new technology can be paired with the startup’s collaborative platform solution, FocalCast Connect, which incorporates live interactive annotation capabilities into digital images so users can give feedback on design briefs and assess graphics and documents.
Complete All Parts of a Research Project Without Leaving Your Desk
For corporations who rely on feedback from different market segments around the globe to shape their products, the capability to instantly connect with multiple parties anywhere in the world on any device, “is game-changing,” Devin Turner, CEO of FocalCast told EQ. “The market research industry is projected to grow at over 12% annually through 2021 and versatile digital services are now an essential part of any research firm or large corporation’s marketing capability.”
The combined FocalCast solutions transform a previously multi-day or weeklong travel process into a same-day virtual experience, that connects researchers with survey participants using video directly to the respondent’s devices. The Unity platform provides a one-stop workflow solution that includes a repository for annotated project documents and promises to drastically cut the time taken to gather customer research.
Cut Down Turn Around Time and Reduce Travel Costs
Practically speaking, that means means that a company could come up with a product idea in the morning, solicit feedback by interviewing customers live across the world in the afternoon, and compile a highlight video of all the different reactions from the recorded interviews, by the next day.
Turner anticipates that market research firms looking to improve their efficiency and increase their field datamay build completely new services over the Unity platform. In a statement made to the St Louis Business Journal, he said, “Bringing a new technology capability to a specific market like this is a big deal. Currently there are only a few legacy options with expensive older platforms and limited capability, so when you can leverage technology to provide a new offering with a seamless user experience that is on-demand it really shakes things up.”
Conduct Research With Anyone Anywhere in the World
Larger research services providers have been looking at the platform, he says.
Unity has already been ‘road-tested’ in actual consumer interviews and the flexibility of the platform has yielded some innovative new approaches to market research. For instance, in a live ‘shop-along,’ where market research interviews are conducted in real time through video calling over mobile phone, researchers could stream exactly how a shopper was browsing shelves.
Unity also features special permissions so that stakeholders in the company can watch live interviews and observe focus groups from anywhere in the world without transmitting their video or audio into the conference. Similar to mirrored rooms that are commonly used for observing focus groups in person, these digital ‘observers’ can chat live with the moderators and each other during the session via a ‘Virtual Backroom’ within the video chat.