While the typical focus group still involves around seven to thirteen participants, a moderator, an agenda for discussion, a room equipped with a one-way mirror in which sponsors may listen and watch, suitable electronic equipment and chalkboards, there have recently been new ideas and new techniques. For example, Option Technologies Inc. offers a system incorporating the following.
A group of people, often a focus group, generates a list of items relevant to the topic under discussion. The list is entered into a computer and the system generates a systematic set of questions about the list that is projected onto a large-screen monitor. This provides a visual stimulus for group members to register their opinions. Participants vote on individual, handheld keypads linked to the computer, which organises the votes into graphics that are fed back to the group by a projection system. Participants orally interpret the meaning of their opinions as projected on the monitor. Group discussion clarifies the issues under research and leads to a systematic and organised basis for further research.2
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