Eye Tracking Terms to Know, Part Two

Eye Tracking Terms to Know, Part Two

Eye-tracking technology today is more widely accessible and applicable than ever, with opportunities in industries from neuromarketing to healthcare. Gazepoint strives to push the boundaries and inspire discoveries by offering our research-grade visual tracking equipment at affordable prices. We also do our best to provide the resources you need to make the most of your equipment, with comprehensive tutorials and articles like this one.

In this two-part series, we are discussing a few common terms you’ll find in the field of visual tracking research. Part one included many of the basics, including the definition of the gaze point, the most basic unit of measurement used in eye tracking. If you have not read that article, we highly encourage you to review it before continuing, because we use a few of those terms in today’s post! When you’re ready, continue on to learn about a few more important vocabulary words in the world of visual tracking.

Heat Map

In our previous article, we discussed many terms that referred to the data collected about the study participant’s gaze. A heat map is one way to interpret that data for the benefit of the researcher.

A heat map is a tool used to help visualize a participant’s fixations over time. Similar to what you see when the meteorologist predicts rain or snow on a map, a color gradient is used to represent a series of gaze points recorded by the eye tracker. These data points are superimposed over the image or video the user was looking at during data collection, and a higher number of fixations typically translates into warmer colors.

Heat maps can help you quickly understand what elements of a stimulus best attract attention or hold interest. They can also be used to compare and contrast data collected from a range of participants, so you can see how different populations reacted differently to the stimulus.


An AOI is an “area of interest.” Rather than being a metric in of itself, an AOI defines a specific region within the displayed stimulus in which metrics will be recorded. For example, in a video where an actor is speaking to the camera, you can define the actor’s face as an AOI and track data relevant to that region.

An AOI helps you collect targeted information on how long it took a user to look at that specific region, how much time they spent looking at that region, and more. One common application is using AOIs to evaluate the performance of different areas of an image or video. You can compare the metrics collected in each region to see which one was prioritized by the user, held their interest, and so on.


TTFF stands for “time to first fixation.” This is the period of time between the stimulus onset and when a certain AOI is first seen by the user. TTFF can give you information on how different points of interest are prioritized by the participant, helping you better design and plan for the user experience. It can indicate either bottom-up stimulus-driven searches, like an attention-grabbing header, or top-down attention-driven searches, where participants are actively looking for specific elements in an image or webpage.

Learn More With Gazepoint

There are many different terms used in the world of visual tracking, but the words we’ve defined in this two-part series are among the first you’ll come across. We hope that we’ve given you an effective introduction into the vocabulary surrounding eye tracking, and if you need further information, check out our support page or contact the Gazepoint team. Order your eye-tracking hardware and software package today, and receive a free copy of our e-book “Eye Tracking the User Experience” to learn more!

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