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3M Launches Visual Attention Service

Online service can help evaluate the impact of creative and graphic designs.




3M has launched a new online service designed to help graphic designers, communicators, and marketers quickly test the impact of graphic designs and increase the probability that viewers will pay attention to the most important content in the first three to five seconds.

Called the 3M Visual Attention Service, the online tool is based on the company’s expertise in vision science and analyzes all the visual elements within an image, such as color, shape, contrast, and text. The result, says 3M, is the ability to accurately predict if a design’s visual hierarchy is strong enough to attract a viewer’s attention. The service also helps designers understand which visual elements will drive the most attention, providing the critical information designers need to guide the revision process.

“Creative designs have historically been evaluated subjectively, but stakeholders are increasingly looking for scientific affirmation that designs will draw attention to key messages. This is a crucial step in compelling viewers to take the right action,” says Bill Smyth, business manager, 3M Digital Out of Home Department.

Photos, creative content, packaging concepts and all manner of creative media can be evaluated in different scenes or contexts. Users simply upload images to 3M’s Web portal, and the Visual Attention Service tool analyzes and reveals the results. The results include a “heat map” and “region map.” The heat map highlights areas likely to receive attention within the first three to five seconds. The region map outlines these areas and reveals a score of the predicted probability that a person will look at the area along with diagnostics to show why the region is likely to get attention.

And, says 3M, the new service can also be used to analyze website layout. The whole page can be processed to determine the saliency of the regions on the page based on the image properties of the page. “However, individuals often view Web pages with specific expectations on where the information of interest resides on the page and may bias their scan path accordingly (e.g., banner blindness),” the company reports. “Typically a good user experience on a website can be achieved when the user's expectations are in alignment with the saliency of the page.”

Price: $4.50 to $20 per image, depending upon number of credits purchased (one credit required per image) and whether you pay as you go or subscribe. A free trial (five free images) of 3M Visual Attention Service is available here: . Note: At this time the service accepts JPEG and BMP files up to 5MB in size; images should be 800 x 600 or greater for optimal results. 3M VAS can be run using IE 7+, FireFox 3+, Safari 4+, and Chrome.





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