“Where words are restrained, the eyes often talk a great deal”
– Samuel Richardson
Eyesight is the most advanced senses we have. Vision is a reflection of our understanding of the exterior world. How we shift our gaze from one object to other can reveal interesting insights about ‘how and what’ we think.
Eye tracking is an advanced research method that captures these stimuli of eye movements relative to the environment to understand the human behavior and functioning in a perceptive manner. The principal of eye tracking is based on pupil center corneal reflection (PCCR), which is optical tracing of corneal movement. The eye tracker device has an embedded infrared camera that allows for precise demarcation between the pupil and the iris without causing interference while the eyes are being tracked. This information captured is evaluated using software that helps visualize, evaluate and decipher the information received in various ways.
The primary premise of this technique is that, there is a relation between what we are thinking and our gaze fixation. Our brain effectively combines the visual images that we attain through consecutive neuroses into an object or a visual scene. The more complex the scene is the longer it takes for the brain to process it and longer is the fixation time on the object. This eye – mind connect helps in measuring the eye movements to reveal more about the human behaviour.
Types of eye trackers:
Though the basic principal of the eye trackers remain same, depending on the kind of research or study there are several eye tracking device types:
a. Screen Based: Respondents can sit near the screen without any connections and eye movements are recorded from a distance. This is advocated for observing stimulus for websites, videos, books or magazines.
b. Eye Glasses: The respondents can move around freely doing tasks in the natural environment by wearing the glasses. This tracker is advocated in studies involving product testing or usability studies etc.
c. VR Headsets: This is a cost effective tracker device that allows the situational interfaces to be studied in various settings without actually creating the space or being physically present. This kind of tracker is recommended for testing shop designs or training places that would be risky to be analyzed in the real world situations.
d. Webcams: This tracker uses images created from webcam instead of infrared light. The position and direction of the eyes is linked to the image generated. This tracker device is widely used for large-scale studies and comparative studies of product or website designs.
Applications of eye tracking:
Eye tracking finds application in various realms, from psychology to healthcare and neuro-marketing and beyond, all fields use eye tracking for obtaining information about individuals or groups of people in a range of backgrounds.
Although this technology is applied in endless fields, some fields use it significantly. They are:
a. User Experience: This encompasses an individual’s attitude and emotion towards the end user product. The eye tracking method is used effectively in this area to understand how well the product delivers the goals. The design shortcomings are divulged through eye tracking which might not have been distinct during the creative designing stages.
b. Market Research: Eye tracking is being widely used by researchers and brand owners to process information regarding consumer purchase and decision making pattern. It helps understand the nuances like what elements attract the buyer’s attention. The eye tracking data provides valuable insights while branding, packaging, designing advertisements and product placement.
Businesses have also been using eye tracking to recognize functional inadequacies, restructure training methods to improve productivity.
Benefits of Eye Tracking:
It is the most effective tool to monitor, record and scrutinize visual behavior. Imagine how difficult and time consuming it would be to ask a respondent who is going through the aisles of the supermarket, to remember all the products, time taken by them to observe the products, quantify them and recall advertisements noticed.
This cutting edge technology gives acumen into the rational processes, learning patterns and various aspects of the human behavior.
The key benefits of Eye Tracking are:
- Understanding of the subconscious – Id.
- Unbiased and accurate data.
- Real time information.
- Its unobtrusive nature allows for tasks to be conducted in a normal manner.
- High level of details can be acquired for deep analysis.
- Value addition to devices used for understanding neurological impairments.
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