The human gaze holds a lot of information. The direction of our gaze and the movements of our eyes offer insight into what holds our interest, what challenges us, what we like or don’t like, and much more. Eye-tracking technology gives you a way to gather that data, understand it, and utilize it. Read on to learn more, and take advantage of this cutting-edge innovation today with a consumer-priced eye tracking package from Gazepoint.
What Is Eye Tracking?
If you’re new to this innovation, then there are a few things you should know. Here, we’ll begin with the basics.
There are a number of companies today that offer eye-tracking technology, and while each has its own unique features and nuances, they all offer essentially the same thing: data on what your users are looking at. The data you gather will depend on the hardware/software package you choose, but there is a general set of metrics you can expect to record, including:
- Direction of gaze
- Number of fixations
- Time to first fixation
- Blink rate
- Blink duration
- Pupil diameter
In many cases, you can also invest in a multipurpose package that also collects biometric data like heart rate and galvanic skin response, also called GSR.
How It Works
The key piece of equipment you’ll need is an eye tracker, which can be mounted on a computer monitor or laptop, or in some cases, mounted on the user’s head. The system uses a light source – typically infrared light for accuracy – which is directed toward the user’s eyes. A camera tracks the reflection of light and the movement of visible features of the eye, such as the pupil.
What You Can Learn
An eye tracker can record a lot of data, including:
- Where a user looks
- How long a user looks at certain elements
- How a user’s gaze travels over an image
The next logical question is: what can you do with this information?
The data collected through eye tracking can offer insight into everything from our physical health to our emotional responses. To learn more about how it can be implemented, keep reading, and order your eye-tracking technology package from Gazepoint today.
The History of Eye Tracking
Today’s eye-tracking technology has found uses in industries across the board, but the innovation itself began centuries ago. Continue reading for a brief history of eye tracking and its evolution.
As with any innovation, eye tracking began with interest and observation. Louis Emile Javal, a French opthamologist who conducted studies around 1879, is one of the first scientists credited in most studies of eye tracking. He noticed that when reading, people’s eyes didn’t move smoothly across the page. Instead, they made quick movements, which we now call saccades, and then short pauses, which we refer to as fixations. His observations were made with the naked eye.
One well-known example of early eye-tracking equipment was a rudimentary contact made by Edmund Huey in 1908. His device was a type of lens that had a small opening for the pupil and a long pointer to follow the movements of the eye while the subject read.
Later, a less invasive device was developed to reflect light beams off the eyes and record those light beams on film. As we discussed earlier, a similar technique is still used today in modern eye trackers. We still use the reflection of light, but now we depend on digital recordings rather than film.
Understanding of eye-tracking data expanded over time. A Russian psychologist named Alfred Lukyanovich Yarbus studied eye movement in the 1950s and 60s, and he determined that there was a connection between a subject’s movement and fixations and their interest in the task at hand. When asked specific questions about an image, their gaze would linger on the relevant items within that image. His studies were only the beginning.
Eye tracking truly took off starting in the 1980s as eye trackers became even more accurate and less intrusive. Computers were then powerful enough to handle visual-tracking data in real time, and it became a way to observe users’ reactions to content like animated graphics and online advertisements. Applications continue to expand, and we’ll discuss some of the ways eye tracking is currently being utilized in a later section.
Gazepoint strives to make the next step in eye tracking innovation by offering research-grade eye tracking technology at a consumer-grade price. From teachers and students to marketing firms, you now have access to powerful and objective data.
Applications of Eye Tracking
What can you use eye tracking for? First, think about how you utilize your eyes — you look at what you’re interested in and ignore what you don’t like. Making that connection is what makes eye tracking a popular tool in many different industries. We’ve outlined a few of the frontrunners here.
Marketing and Design
Visual tracking offers you the opportunity to better understand your customers and what holds their interest. You can utilize the objective data you collect to streamline workflow and improve usability. You can see what features draw a user’s attention and what they avoid. From packaging and ad design to the layout of your online store, you can gather information on what works and avoid gambling on updates or new features.
Eye tracking also shows promise for improving research and the diagnosis process in the medical field. There have already been several studies connecting eye movements and data collected by eye trackers with medical diagnoses. We’ve listed a few examples below.
Strabismus is a condition where the patient can’t focus both eyes in one place. It’s one of the most common vision disorders among kids in preschool, and the existing process for screening for strabismus is ineffective.
In most cases, a diagnosis depends on a subjective decision by an individual examiner, and the process is difficult to implement on a large scale, such as throughout schools. Eye tracking shows promise in identifying alignment disorders like strabismus faster, more easily, and more objectively.
Eye-tracking technology now may be able to streamline the process of diagnosing autism by measuring for early characteristic features. For example, one study used visual tracking to predict an autism diagnosis in children who focused more on geometric shapes rather than humans in action. If further studies support this research, eye tracking can be a noninvasive and minimally distracting way to measure a child’s probability of manifesting autism.
There is growing scientific support for a link between Alzheimer’s and a change in a patient’s eye movements and viewing behavior. Identifying these changes could be a way to diagnose Alzheimer’s and/or assess its corresponding symptoms. Eye-tracking technology provides a way to measure those symptoms, such as saccades and the focus and efficiency of a patient’s visual search.
Visual tracking is also being developed to help those with disabilities. There are numerous different kinds of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices currently in practice and development, each of them designed to help those with pre-existing disabilities, serious injuries, or degenerative conditions such as ALS communicate. Current devices use head movements, joysticks, or switches to help the user select words and phrases, which are spoken aloud by a recorded or computer-generated voice. As an example, Stephen Hawking utilized an AAC device throughout his life.
Eye tracking provides yet another option. With technology developed by companies like Gazepoint, users can now select words and phrases with their gaze rather than by touch. It promises to be an important innovation, particularly for those with motor disabilities who are unable to use traditional switches or joysticks.
The use of eye-tracking technology clearly needs to be taught to the next generation of innovators. In pursuit of this, Gazepoint has made it easy and affordable to make our research-grade equipment available on a large scale.
Students can get hands-on experience with the same technology implemented in real-world business and research situations, and they have the resources they need for academic papers and experiments. Your classroom may even break new ground on finding another innovative use for Gazepoint.
The Future of Eye Tracking
Now that we’ve discussed eye tracking, its history, and its current applications, it’s time to look to the future.
As we mentioned, there is a lot to be learned from eye tracking in the marketing industry, which has led to a new branch that focuses on those benefits: neuromarketing. In the future, we at Gazepoint believe that the use of objective data gathered by visual-tracking devices like ours will be the new norm. Companies won’t have to depend on questionable resources like surveys, and they can directly address points of frustration or disinterest to improve customer engagement.
The tools offered by Gazepoint aren’t limited only to the world of digital and web design. Eye-tracking technology can also applied to other specialties, such as architectural design. Experts could utilize virtual reality to test someone’s response in the same way we currently use eye tracking to test a user’s response to web graphics.
Another development to watch for is visual tracking implemented in video game play. It opens up the possibility of communicating your intention to the computer more accurately and intuitively, whether you want to move to a different location, aim a weapon, or open a side menu.
In the same vein, eye tracking is already making waves in the potential it holds for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). For example, the technology to track eye movements can be incredibly useful for helping a device measure and adjust to interpupillary distance, which differs from person to person and can affect their VR experience.
Another innovation waiting in the wings is the ability to use eye tracking to improve foveated rendering. Our eyes only truly focus on one area at a time, and a properly calibrated device can take advantage of that to improve the image quality in that area without wasting bandwidth to completely render the surrounding areas.
With the right equipment and resources, you may be the one creating a new path for eye-tracking applications. Get started today with a hardware and software package from Gazepoint. Order now!