Irish eyes smile upon Ball State student's digital tracking project

Topics: College of Communication Information and Media, Miller College of Business

October 14, 2008

A Ball State University student's innovative system designed to analyze viewership of digital display advertising recently won the top award at the annual International Business Informatics Challenge (IBIC) in Dublin, Ireland.

Mark Isenbarger, a graduate student from New Haven, Ind., enrolled in the information and communication sciences master's program, received first place for his paper  "Automated Market Research: Capitalizing on Unforeseen Changes in the Market."

His paper is based on an emerging media project developed during 2007-08 when Isenbarger, then a senior in Ball State's Miller College of Business, led a student team enrolled in the systems analysis and design class offered by the Department of Information Systems and Operations Management (ISOM).

Under Isenbarger's system, which includes the use of a Web camera to photograph people looking at the display, marketers could analyze the number of views, length of time for each and what part of the screen a person's eyes were focused. "The system developed by Mark and his student team could change the way retailers and other marketers use digital screens in grocery stores or other outlets," said Fred Kitchens, an ISOM associate professor who taught the two-semester immersive learning class.

Kitchens said Isenbarger's student team developed the system, but the equipment was readily available in one of the university's state-of-the-art computer labs.

Isenbarger's award marks the third consecutive year that a Ball State student has won a major award at IBIC. In 2007, a student won the Best Presentation Award, and another student won the Best Cooperative Project Award in 2006. 

Kitchens said this track record of success at an international competition is an indication that Ball State's immersive learning initiative is effective and powerful.

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