SOFTWARE: Cognitive Workload

EyeTracking, Inc.'s patented Index of Cognitive Activity measures Cognitive Workload objectively and unobtrusively in real-time. This metric has been validated in peer-reviewed research in a number of different fields. It is available through the EyeWorks Cognitive Workload Module or our new Workload RT™ stand-alone product. The background and applications of this metric are discussed below.

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The pupil is surrounded by two sets of muscles, a circular set and a radial set. The circular muscles react to the presence or absence of light; the radial muscles react when a person exerts mental effort. The Index of Cognitive Activity (ICA) measures pupil changes resulting from mental effort (radial muscles) while factoring out the light reflex (circular muscles). This patented metric is the culmination of three decades of research into cognition and assessment. It was developed under DoD support through projects with the Office of Naval Research.

Interested in learning more about the science behind cognitive workload and out technology? Learn more at



The ICA has been used by researchers all over the world to meet a range of different objectives in a variety of different contexts.

  • Measure the level of difficulty experienced in a simulator
  • Compare workload across multiple iterations of an interface
  • Diagnose specific features of a task that are associated with high workload
  • Optimize training materials based on a quantifiable measure of difficulty
  • Identify opportunities to improve ease of system operation
  • Demonstrate workload differences between user groups

The ICA has been an integral part of some of the most important cognitive workload research of the past decade. The focus of these studies has included:

  • Automobile drivers
  • FAA Air Traffic Controllers
  • TSA Baggage Screeners
  • Laparoscopic Surgeons
  • U.S. Naval Officers
  • NASA Trainees
  • Subjects with neurological disorders



EyeTracking, Inc.’s cognitive workload assessment metric is available in two formats:

  • The Cognitive Workload Module integrates ICA-based workload assessment seamlessly into EyeWorks eye tracking software. Workload data may be rendered during data collection, synched to eye data, visualized for analysis, exported as CSV and examined statistically using the EyeWorks ‘Reports’ tool.
  • Workload RT is a simple stand-alone product for researchers and developers who wish to use ICA-based cognitive workload assessment without EyeWorks. Using Workload RT, workload data may be rendered in real time, saved to text file or integrated directly into an external application. Workload RT is an ideal solution for OEM developers or 3rd party developers looking to enhance their own software with our world leading workload measurement technology.


Case Study


Northrop Grumman, a leading global security company


EyeTracking, Inc. utilized the Index of Cognitive Activity (ICA) to evaluate two versions (current and redesigned) of a mission critical system designed to monitor air, surface and subsurface traffic for the Space and Naval Warfare Command. The goal of this research ...


Video Overview

Watch the above video to see an overview of the Index of Cognitive Activity

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