Participants (random people sought out by a third party, and compensated with a gift card for their efforts) are invited to the lab and asked to use the site as they would at home. These participants are then hooked up to an eye tracker and face sensors which measure electrical impulses in two muscles (forehead and mouth) and seated in an adjoining room from the researcher who observes their behaviour through a two-way ­mirror. The sensors detect slight changes in facial expressions that suggest feelings of happiness, ­frustration, or anxiety, and researchers leverage on those insights, in the same way Electromyography or EMG works. Scott Jones, vice president of global product design and user experience at Expedia, explained how holiday planning online can often lead to fatigue, and yet the consumer usually wants as much data as they can have in order to make the best decisions. “Unlike other e-commerce – where you can return stuff – with travel, you don’t really know what you’ve purchased online until you get there,” said Jones, revealing that the average consumer would make at least 48 searches for flights, and 22 for accommodations before actually booking. (That’s actually a pretty tiny number when compared to what Greg Mushen, director of flight search product, claims is a mind-boggling 19 quadrillion unique round trip options between Seattle and Atlanta on one day). Get the full story at The Star Online and K5 (video)