Why you should consider using eye-tracking insights in your thesis or scientific research (and how to use online, remote version)?

Regardless if you’re a student, doctor or professor, every researcher values the power of data. The more data is collected, the more valuable are the study results. So there’s no need to explain to you why it’s always good to have additional insights, including ones from eye-tracking.

What is eye-tracking?

It’s a process of measuring where someone was looking (point of gaze) and for how long. It enables tracking the subconscious behavior of your subjects. This great tool is being used by psychologists, neuroscientists, market researchers, graphic designers and many more. Also, since there are some affordable and easy to use online tools, it’s an excellent chance for students to learn more about this solution or even to use it for writing their thesis.

Eye-trackers types - a quick review of solutions

Eye-attached tracking — basically special contact lenses. They have an embedded mirror or magnetic field sensor to measure eye movement.

Pros:

  • extremely sensitive and accurate measurements,
  • allows eye movement measurements in horizontal, vertical and torsion directions,
  • a great choice for researchers studying the dynamics and underlying physiology of eye movement.

Cons:

  • it can slip as the eye moves/rotates,
  • not everyone feels comfortable with wearing lenses,
  • you need to test your subjects in a laboratory by yourself,
  • costs,
  • you need experience in analyzing data.

Electric potential measurement — this solution consists of two pairs of electrodes placed on the skin around the eyes. The electric potential is generated by a dipole: negative dipole at the retina and positive at the cornea. While an eye moves from the center towards the periphery position, one dipole (retina) approaches one electrode while the other dipole (cornea) approaches the opposing one. Changes in the potential fields are translated to eye movement.

Pros:

  • movement can be detected in darkness or while the eyes are closed (can be used in sleep research),
  • in some conditions allows reliable, even miniature saccades detection,
  • allows blinks detection,
  • there are some MatLab libraries ready to use.

Cons:

  • it’s hard to measure slow eye movement and to detest gaze direction because of the potential drifts and variable relations between the signal amplitudes and the saccade sizes,
  • you need to test your subjects in a laboratory by yourself,
  • again, not everyone feels comfortable wearing these,
  • you need experience in analyzing data.

Optical tracking - this solution uses a light source (usually infrared) and a camera. Light falls on the eye’s surface, is reflected, and then sensed by a camera (or some optical sensor). The reflected light is analyzed to extract eye rotation from changes in reflections. Such solutions typically use the corneal reflection and the center of the pupil as features to track over time.

Pros:

  • non-invasive and comfortable for testers,
  • many optical eye-trackers are nowadays really accurate,
  • easy to use.

Cons:

  • they can be pretty expensive (even a few thousand dollars),
  • you need to test your subjects in a laboratory by yourself,
  • you need some experience in analyzing data.

RealEye online webcam eye-tracking — what are the pros and cons?

A camera (webcam) is watching tester while performing a test and by face-tracking algorithms, our software can detect the position of eyes and pupils. The whole process begins with calibration, where our system is learning how tester’s eyes look like while watching certain parts of the screen. After successful calibration, we start measuring eye position while displaying stimuli (your item).

Pros:

  • costs - in comparison to other solutions it’s the cheapest one,
  • all research can be done 100% remotely and fast (you’ll see the results immediately after a tester finishes his/her task),
  • external survey integrations
  • it’s easy to understand received results even if you don’t have any experience,
  • excellent and unique customer support — answering every question or request as fast as the team is able too (often even after working hours),
  • consultations online — whether you need help in creating the study or analyzing its results or maybe you have some feature requests, the RealEye team is always ready to help and discuss any issue.

Cons:

You can try by yourself how precisely it works on you or your friends by making a demo test.

Also, take a look at our sample results:

To be continued…

Originally published at https://www.realeye.io.

I love to engage in interesting and forward-looking projects. I am a mixture of scrum master interested in startups with strong technical knowledge