MediaWatch, a new electronic measurement device developed by market research group GfK, made its debut Tuesday at the international Week of Audience Measurement organized by ESOMAR and ARF in Geneva.

Wristwatch devices that track a wearer's radio listening are by no means new technology -- although they are still regarded as suspect in certain quarters. But the latest gizmo claims to go several steps further than anything else on the market.

Not only does it monitor and record radio listening patterns, MediaWatch also extends to TV viewing, even (via manual input) to newspapers, magazines, cinema and outdoor advertising.

According to GfK, the watch is the first technology to enable user-specific -- as opposed to media-specific -- research into media consumption. By extension it is also the first to record and analyze the complex multimedia mix to which people are currently exposed.

A recording unit retains and encodes audio and radio signals three times a minute, and can store up to four weeks of data before uploading. If appropriate, panel members can use docking stations for overnight transmission to a GfK data centre of signals recorded during the day.

Petra Heinlein, the management board member responsible for GfK's media division, hails MediaWatch as "revolutionary". She adds: "We are confident that our new measurement instruments point to the future for media research."

Data sourced from: Daily Research News Online; additional content by WARC staff