Integration of non-invasive biometrics with sensory analysis techniques to assess acceptability of beer by consumers


Traditional sensory tests rely on conscious and self-reported responses from participants. The integration of non-invasive biometric techniques, such as heart rate, body temperature, brainwaves and facial expressions can gather more information from consumers while tasting a product. The main objectives of this study were i) to assess significant differences between beers for all conscious and unconscious responses, ii) to find significant correlations among the different variables from the conscious and unconscious responses and iii) to develop a model to classify beers according to liking using only the unconscious responses. For this study, an integrated camera system with video and infrared thermal imagery (IRTI), coupled with a novel computer application was used. Videos and IRTI were automatically obtained while tasting nine beers to extract biometrics (heart rate, temperature and facial expressions) using computer vision analysis. Additionally, an EEG mobile headset was used to obtain brainwave signals during beer consumption. Consumers assessed foam, color, aroma, mouthfeel, taste, flavor and overall acceptability of beers using a 9-point hedonic scale with results showing a higher acceptability for beers with higher foamability and lower bitterness. i) There were non-significant differences among beers for the emotional and physiological responses, however, significant differences were found for the cognitive and self-reported responses. ii) Results from principal component analysis explained 65% of total data variability and, along with the covariance matrix (p < 0.05), showed that there are correlations between the sensory responses of participants and the biometric data obtained. There was a negative correlation between body temperature and liking of foam height and stability, and a positive correlation between theta signals and bitterness. iii) Artificial neural networks were used to develop three models with high accuracy to classify beers according to level of liking (low and high) of three sensory descriptors: carbonation mouthfeel (82%), flavor (82%) and overall liking (81%). The integration of both sensory and biometric responses for consumer acceptance tests showed to be a reliable tool to be applied to beer tasting to obtain more information from consumers physiology, behavior and cognitive responses.

Publication Title

Physiology and Behavior