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The EyeTracking Blog

Author: EyeTracking Inc. Created: 1/17/2011 1:02 AM RssIcon
A blog about eye tracking technology and uses for researchers in a wide variety of fields, written by eye tracking experts
By EyeTracking Inc. on 5/23/2017 4:45 AM

medical training In today’s world, highly skilled jobs are becoming more demanding as personnel are expected to perform critical tasks using highly complex systems in difficult environments. Surgeons and pilots are only two examples of individuals facing such environments. Pressures on the medical and aviation industries are enormous. In the medical realm, our aging population means more medical conditions to treat and thus an ever-increasing demand for skilled medical personnel. In the aviation arena, more people are travelling to more places and thus adding further strain on the aviation industry to supply evermore pilots to meet the demands both now and into the future.

Despite these two examples being seemingly quite different, they face a common basic problem—namely time-efficient and resource-efficient training. The quality of training needs to be maintained, and ideally even improved...

By EyeTracking Inc. on 9/20/2014 1:59 PM
Scene Camera Data Collection - Mobile / Tablet Example

Testing on a monitor, testing with a projector, testing on a laptop, a Command and Control Station, a TV... the list goes on. Where ever a person meets machine, there is a way that eye tracking can be employed. As new interfaces and devices are released, eye tracking must evolve to ensure that it can be used easily with those devices.

The latest such device was released yesterday, and that's when mine turned up in the mail - I am of course referring to the much anticipated iPhone 6. Here at EyeTracking, we have many customers that use our EyeWorks software to test mobile apps on a variety of devices. We ourselves, run usability services (using EyeWorks or course), for a range of companies testing mobile apps. As we had an iPhone 6 in hand, we thought we should...
By EyeTracking Inc. on 4/24/2013 9:48 PM
How many times each day do you use an app on your smart phone? once? twice? dozens? Most of us use apps almost without thinking—they have become a part of the way we work and play. You are no doubt very aware of how apps are changing how you travel (buy a ticket, check in, reserve a car, find the nearest coffee, get a weather report and on and on). And there's a visible impact on our shopping, with apps for all the major online shopping sites becoming more and more popular.

At latest count, there are at least 700,000 apps EACH for iPhones and Android smart phones. That's a lot of apps. Just as you might expect, some are good and some aren't. Remember about 10-15 years ago when everyone rushed to build a website? Some worked, some didn't. We're going through the same thing with apps right now.

Apps that don't deliver what the consumers want are...
By EyeTracking Inc. on 1/17/2013 2:13 PM
Eye tracking has characteristics of both quantitative and qualitative research. On one hand, you have access to a large amount of high-precision data, appropriate for detailed statistical analysis of visual behavior. On the other hand, observation of just a few eye tracking video sessions can provide valuable insight into visibility. By no means does this represent a methodological weakness, actually quite the opposite. The dovetailing of quantitative and qualitative research interests in eye tracking is a great strength. It does, however, complicate one aspect of research: SAMPLE SIZE.

Which of these researchers has a better sense of sample size in eye tracking studies - (A) a user experience analyst who plans to test 12 participants on a website or (B) a package designer who plans to test 120 participants viewing a new line of packages? The answer is both…or...
By EyeTracking Inc. on 10/15/2012 2:05 PM
Gaze-controlled systems have been in the news quite a bit lately. Fujitsu made headlines at CEATAC (the Consumer Electronics Show of Japan) last week when they demoed a prototype tablet that uses eye movements for navigation. In September CNN Tech ran a story about a $30 pair of eye tracking glasses that "opens the door to a new era of hands-free computers, allowing us to use them without a mouse, keyboard or touch screen." Such innovations are certainly impressive, but before we all throw away our antiquated hand-controlled devices and start practicing eye-clicks, let's get some perspective on this application.

History: The technology to control systems with our eyes has been around for about three decades. Since the early 1980s disabled users have benefited greatly from the use of gaze-controlled systems as a means of clicking and typing. As eye tracking has improved, these...
By EyeTracking Inc. on 9/25/2012 9:54 AM
If you've explored eye tracking as a research technology, then you've probably noticed the extreme variability in the cost of eye trackers. These aren't laptops we're talking about, where a higher-end model can mean an extra few hundred dollars. The cost of one piece of eye tracking hardware versus another can vary by tens of thousands of dollars.

Take a look at the system pictured here (which I just invented). It's made from an old web cam, a clothespin, a laser pointer, three pencils and some scotch tape. It doesn't work at all, but the cost is unbelievably low! All kidding aside, the point here is important to consider - What is an acceptable tradeoff between cost and quality? Is a lower-end eye tracker going to provide you with good enough data to meet your research objectives? These are crucial questions for anyone interested in equipping an eye tracking lab.

By EyeTracking Inc. on 9/6/2012 8:02 AM
When evaluating new technology, skepticism is a useful reflex. Are you sure it works? How do you know? Where is your evidence? Such questions help to weed out the ineffective tools and improve the ones that show promise. In this way, skeptics guide the evolution of the very technologies of which they are skeptical. And if you're skeptical of that conclusion, just look at eye tracking. Today's excellent visual behavior analysis tools are in part the result of a century and half of skepticism regarding the accuracy of data collected, the applicability to different research areas and the realism of the testing setup. For example, if no one had ever said, "Hmm, that chin rest and bite bar sure do seem to distract the participant," then progress toward systems with head movement correction would not have been as swift.

At this point, the technical quality of eye tracking is well-established....
By EyeTracking Inc. on 8/15/2012 1:58 PM
"To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

The origins of the preceding quotation are unclear - most likely Kaplan or Maslow, but some argue that Mark Twain said it first. No matter the author, this analogy is apt to describe a current trend in our industry. After roughly a half-century of amazing technological advancements and staggering feats of R&D, eye tracking researchers have created some extremely useful hammers. We have hammers that measure every fixation, saccade and flicker of your pupil. We have hammers that sit on your desk and hammers that rest unobtrusively on the bridge of your nose. We have hammers that can track the eye of pretty much anyone pretty much anywhere doing pretty much anything. I am referring, of course, to our eye tracking hardware systems, which seamlessly translate raw physiology into accurate visual behavior data. Regardless of the source of this well-worn quote, the point can be easily applied to our own high-tech tools.

By EyeTracking Inc. on 4/3/2012 1:16 PM
In 2002, Dr. Sandra Marshall presented a landmark paper at the IEEE 7th Conference on Human Factors and Power Plants, introducing the Index of Cognitive Activity (ICA). This innovative technique "provides an objective psychophysiological measurement of cognitive workload" from pupil-based eye tracking data. In the decade since this conference, the ICA has been used by eye tracking researchers all over the world in a wide variety of contexts.

In this installment of the EyeTracking blog, we'll take a look at some of the most interesting applications of the ICA. There are many to choose from, but here are a few of the greatest hits…

The ICA in Automotive Research

Understanding the workload of drivers is central to automotive design and regulation. Schwalm et al. collected ICA data during a driving simulation including lane changes and secondary tasks. Analyses...
By EyeTracking Inc. on 3/14/2012 9:15 AM
Eye tracking is certainly on the rise. There are more businesses, universities and government agencies using this technology now than ever before. To keep pace with demand, new eye tracking hardware systems are being released all the time. So how do you decide which one is the right one for your research? It's not as if you can walk into Best Buy and ask the guy in the blue shirt which eye tracker you should purchase… not yet anyway.

At EyeTracking, Inc. we've used every type of eye tracker in just about every research environment, from the usability lab to the grocery store, from the cockpit to the operating room. After over a decade of work with dozens of eye tracking systems, we've learned a thing or two about choosing the tool best-suited to each of our projects. For those of you considering the purchase of an eye tracker, here are a few questions that we recommend that...
By EyeTracking Inc. on 12/1/2011 3:49 PM
There's a lot to like about EyeWorks™. Its unique brand of flexible efficacy makes it an ideal software solution for eye tracking professionals in a variety of academic, applied and marketing fields. To put it simply, EyeWorks™ IS the collective expertise of EyeTracking, Inc., refined and packaged for researchers everywhere. In the coming months we will highlight a few unique features of EyeWorks™ in the EyeTracking Blog.

Dynamic Region Analysis (Patent Pending)

All good science must quantify results. Eye tracking research is no exception, be it academic, applied, marketing or any other discipline. Unless you have an objective way to evaluate the precise activity of the eye, there is little value in collecting such data. Thus, most eye tracking software offers the ability to draw regions (or AOIs, if you like) as a way to quantify the number and timing of data points...
By EyeTracking Inc. on 11/28/2011 3:05 PM
There's a lot to like about EyeWorks™. Its unique brand of flexible efficacy makes it an ideal software solution for eye tracking professionals in a variety of academic, applied and marketing fields. To put it simply, EyeWorks™ IS the collective expertise of EyeTracking, Inc., refined and packaged for researchers everywhere. In the coming months we will highlight a few unique features of EyeWorks™ in the EyeTracking Blog.

Multi-Display Data Collection

A typical eye tracking study takes place within the borders of a single display, be it a monitor, projection, television or scene camera view. EyeWorks, however, is far from typical. In addition to managing standard data collection, our software offers the opportunity to collect data across multiple displays simultaneously. This innovative feature is fully integrated into all components of the EyeWorks research model,...
By EyeTracking Inc. on 10/5/2011 11:24 AM
Package design is the most challenging form of advertising. It lacks the storyline of a commercial, the vastness of a billboard, the dynamics of an online ad. The package is forced to deliver its message non-verbally with static content on minimal space while sharing the spotlight with every competitor in the category. From a marketing perspective, this isn't an ideal situation, especially if you consider the fact that the package offers a unique chance to speak directly to consumers at the very moment that they make their purchase decision. It's a golden opportunity, and yet a cluttered environment and mediocre medium make it difficult to take advantage. The struggle to STAND OUT on the shelf is the primary reason that eye tracking research on CPG has flourished in recent years. Retailers realize that understanding visibility is the key to gauging the effectiveness of a given package...
By EyeTracking Inc. on 9/15/2011 3:28 PM
There's a lot to like about EyeWorks™. Its unique brand of flexible efficacy makes it an ideal software solution for eye tracking professionals in a variety of academic, applied and marketing fields. To put it simply, EyeWorks™ IS the collective expertise of EyeTracking, Inc., refined and packaged for researchers everywhere. In the coming months we will highlight a few unique features of EyeWorks™ in the EyeTracking Blog.

Multi-System Compatibility

Would you use the same equipment to evaluate the cognitive workload of a pilot in the cockpit as you would to study the eye movements of a shopper scanning a supermarket shelf? Neither would we. Because of the diversity of research conducted at EyeTracking, Inc., multi-system compatibility is a must. In one study we might need a remote system with scene camera mode and excellent gaze data accuracy; in another we may require...
By EyeTracking Inc. on 8/23/2011 3:38 PM
The semiautonomous vehicle is the future of the automotive industry. Innovations such as forward collision avoidance radar and lane departure warning systems are evidence of a clear trend - little by little, demands on the driver are being shifted to the car. It's easy to see how these and other safety advances could make our roadways less dangerous. After all, the vast majority of traffic accidents are the result of human error. Any technology that can take a bit of responsibility away from the guy fiddling with the radio and playing Angry Birds while traveling 70 MPH down the freeway is welcome.

But let's not forget the 'semi' in semiautonomous. A recent feature in Wired Magazine explains the risks inherent in the automation of certain aspects of the driving experience. While computerized assistance can improve safety in dealing with stressful situations, it may actually...
By EyeTracking Inc. on 7/26/2011 3:33 PM
Over the past hundred years or so, the word "promising" has been employed quite often to describe eye tracking technology - from the very first noninvasive eye data collection by Dodge and Cline in 1901, through Fitts' work with pilots in the 40s and 50s, right up to modern day uses in a diverse array of applied and research fields. Indeed, it is a promising technology. Absolutely, unquestionably, indubitably, there is great promise in the precise evaluation of visual behavior.

However, as noted by Jacob and Karn (2003), to be described as "promising" for such a lengthy interval is a dubious distinction. On one hand eye tracking must really hold promise or else it would have been discarded long ago. On the other hand, it raises a difficult question: when will this long-heralded promise finally be fulfilled?

I've worked in the industry for roughly seven years, and I...
By EyeTracking Inc. on 6/29/2011 1:46 PM
For better or worse, as citizens of the modern world we are inundated with information everywhere we go. At home, at work, in the car, plane or subway, it's often difficult to disconnect because the news of the day is always at our fingertips and the billboard is ever-present within our field of view. Simply put, it's a lot to take in. How on earth do we keep it all straight? How do we maintain order with all of this information piling up? Well, the trick is not to let it all pile up. Basically, just ignore that which is not relevant. The 21st century brain makes use of a sophisticated data filter to accomplish this task. It allows us to focus despite all the noise, to live our lives without being completely overwhelmed by the obligation to process every single sight and sound that we encounter. We'd go crazy with data overload if not for this handy adaptation. On the other hand, it does tend to make life...
By EyeTracking Inc. on 6/15/2011 8:05 AM
If you perform a Google image search for 'eye tracking,' your results will consist primarily of heat maps - heat maps of webpages, heat maps of advertisements, heat maps of grocery store shelves, heat maps, heat maps and more heat maps. They are the most recognizable eye tracking analysis tool. They are the most commonly requested eye tracking deliverable. At this point, it isn't too much of a stretch to say that the heat map has become the logo for the eye tracking industry as a whole.

However, this post will not be another puff piece about the unmitigated value of this oft-used data rendering. EyeTracking, Inc. will toot its own horn just this once to say that we were the originators of the heat map (or GazeSpot as we call it) back in the 1990s, and then we will proceed to a more objective discussion. What we'd like to talk about today is the manner in which these graphics are misused and misinterpreted....
By EyeTracking Inc. on 5/19/2011 10:08 PM
By far the most common question that we hear from potential clients is this: ‘Can I conduct my eye tracking research internally, or should I enlist the services of an expert?’ It’s an excellent starting point, but the answer that you receive will most likely depend on who you ask. Sellers of eye tracking systems will probably advise you to purchase the equipment yourself, whereas sellers of eye tracking services might steer you toward one of their external solutions. This can make the decision rather difficult. Fortunately, we at EyeTracking, Inc. offer systems AND services. It doesn’t matter to us which direction you choose, so we’re able to give you an objective recommendation based on our substantial experience within the industry. Here’s a basic overview of the pros and cons of each approach.

The benefits of in-house eye tracking are obvious. You own the hardware and software to design your studies, record your data and analyze your results. Recent advances in flexibility and portability allow you to...
By EyeTracking Inc. on 5/6/2011 2:12 PM
At midnight on Wednesday March 23rd two commercial airplanes approaching Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington D.C. requested permission to land. The tower responded with only silence. After repeated attempts at communication, both pilots were forced to navigate their descent through the darkness without the assistance of Air traffic Control.  The landings were successful and no one was injured, but when it was revealed that the controller on duty was asleep at his post, the story captured national attention.

Fatigue is unavoidable for the air traffic controller. The combination of long hours, monotonous tasks and high stress will eventually lead to physical and mental exhaustion, no matter how many cups of coffee are consumed. The event described above is just one of five cases reported in the past month. This is not a pleasant thought for the frequent flyers among us.  It means that at any given time as we hurtle through the atmosphere in a combustible tube traveling 500 miles per hour suspended 30,000...