Gaze Your Way Through Eye Tracking Technology
It seems like every day we are hearing about new technologies designed to improve previously introduced technologies. Innovation is moving so fast that our tech is upgrading within a few years of introduction.
Think about how quickly we moved from the smartphone to wearables. Cameras on smartphones are becoming more advanced than some high-priced digital cameras on the market.
Now, gamers, advertisers, doctors, and researchers are all clamoring for the latest in Eye Tracking Technology.
What is Eye Tracking?
The process of gauging and responding to human eye motion, or eye tracking, is a rising interest in tech world. Many larger firms have been acquiring eye tracking startups along with the devices and software programs supporting eye tracking.
It is possible that eye tracking will become a standard feature of a new generation of smartphones and other digital devices, setting the stage for a revolution in how we communicate with devices.
But technology can’t grow unless it fulfills specific demands and uses. Eye tracking devices and software seem to be meeting those demands.
Most eye tracking follows the motion of the eye as an individual looks over a web page.
When site visitors are connected to eye tracking, web page developers and curators can see:
- Where they are looking
- How long they are looking
- How their focus moves from item to item on your web page
- What parts of the interface they miss
- How they are navigating the length of the page
- How size and placement of items on your existing site or on proposed designs affects attention
According to usability.gov, as a viewer “looks at a webpage, the eye tracking device focuses on the pupil of the participants eye and determines the direction and concentration of their gaze. The software generates data about these actions in the form of heat maps and saccade pathways.”
Heat maps keep track of where visitors spend their time looking and how long they looked at a specific point.
Saccade pathways trace eye movement among focus areas. The software detects periods of attention as well as rapid movement.
Combining this technology with other digital devices and interfacing equipment is the next step in the eye tracking revolution.
Current Eye Tracking Technology
One of the primary uses for eye-tracking technology is in headsets. It is called “foveated rendering,” which tracks a user’s gaze on a display and purifies the focal area to full resolution while blurring out extra spaces. This reduces processing loads significantly. Experts consider the technology as essential to bring extreme-high-resolution screens to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets.
Recently, Apple presented ARKit, a set of application processing interfaces for developers building augmented reality experiences. This helped Apple bring VR development support to the iMac Pro.
Google, not to be outdone by Apple, acquired Eyefluence . While Google prepares to launch its Daydream virtual reality platform, with its Daydream View headset, next generation headsets are already being developed.
Eye-tracking is critical technology to future VR headsets. And while there has been lots of focus on smartwatches recently, developers are focused on the next generation of wearables like Google Glass. Competitor Qualcomm is also said to be developing new “Augmented Reality Glasses.” Their product is said to be capable of monitoring the position of the pupil and cornea reflections with a camera speed of 120 frames per second without draining battery life.
As innovators and developers continue to improve eye tracking tech, they must contend with not only the successes but the failures as well.
Pros and Cons of Eye Tracking
Eye tracking software and the specialists needed to install and monitor the software are prohibitively expensive at this time. The capabilities and limitations of the tech can be researched online and purchased through web and usability solutions vendors.
When analyzing your research, keep these things in mind:
Tell you whether users are reading or scanning content.
Give you the relative intensity of a user’s attention to different parts of your web page.
Determine whether a user is searching for something. Pupil diameter appears to increase when users are not sure what words they are looking for. This can happen when users are on new sites or pages with groups of broad categories.
Allow you to compare different user groups’ scan patterns.
Cannot tell you for certainty that users saw something conscientiously. Users can aim their eyes at an area for a short period of time without any awareness.
Cannot tell you for a certainty that users did not see something, since eye tracking does not capture peripheral vision.
Cannot tell you why users are looking at something.
Cannot test everybody effectively. Problems have occurred when some users wore eyeglasses or hard contacts, had small pupils, a wandering eye or expressive face.
There are certainly other ways to utilize this tech in day to day living:
Understand human behavior
We process our world primarily using our eyes. We interpret natural human behavior with our eyes, which helps us to gain insights into people.
Enable hands-free interaction
Eye tracking facilitates allow hands-free interactions with computers and other devices.
New user experiences and humanized user interfaces
Combining eye tracking with keyboards, touch-pads, and voice commands, will create new user experiences and innovating interfaces for regular consumer devices.
The Future of Eye Tracking
As with any emerging technology, eye tracking is currently seen to positively affect the following areas:
VR headset companies are making huge investments in eye tracking technology. Eye tracking is seen as the technology complementing VR. Eye tracking technology is vital to foveated rendering.
Eye tracking technology will reduce graphic distortions caused from software not taking eye position into account when rendering VR graphics.
Game pads, keyboards, joysticks, mice, and other peripherals have made PC games and video game consoles the first of interfaces. Changing to eye tracking will allow the computer to know what you’re looking at.
Eye tracking might make gaming environments more fluid, whether the player is aiming at a target, hacking at an object, designating a location for the game character to run, or changing the direction of the point-of-view camera. This can mean massive improvement in game play for those games that require lots of mouse and controller input.
Medicine & Accessibility
“There is an increasing interest in using eye tracking to help diagnose — and potentially treat –neurological disorders,” says Bryn Farnsworth, science editor at biometric research company iMotions on techcrunch.com.
One eye tracking company, RightEye, uses the technology to help physicians administer tests and find symptoms for illnesses like concussions, Alzheimer’s disease, dyslexia, and to help treat autistic children.
The innovation of eye tracking can also help in developing tech like gaze keyboards and control panels powered by eye tracking. This gives people with diseases like cerebral palsy and spinal cord injuries a way to communicate.
Impressions and clicks can give marketing professionals a sense of their reach in social media, but those numbers do not precisely reflect the effectiveness of ad campaigns as a lot of what gets counted as impressions is wasted on non-human sources. Eye tracking tech changes this.
Eye tracking technology allows online advertisers to measure exactly how many actual human eyes view their ads. Gaining precise metrics would be nearly impossible, but eye tracking does give insights into how users interact with ads.
Market researchers must evaluate human interactions and expectations in all forms of digital interaction. The advances in eye tracking open new possibilities in marketing tests.
Eye tracking can be used to get precise user and customer metrics, both digital (such as mobile apps, online ads, websites, software and device control panels) and physical (such as cars, print material, retail stores, product packages, and home furniture).
Weighing a user’s natural interaction with services and products helps researchers identify real usability problems and frustration points. They can then collect actionable information to give insights into customer satisfaction and engagement and inform design decisions.
Society is on the verge of a new paradigm of PC usage where eye tracking is a modality that will make computers much more intuitive and productive. Since vision is the most used sense by human beings, being able to track and measure eye movement digitally will impact how we make our intentions known to computers.
Eye tracking technology is the next phase in creating hands-free communication, virtual reality, and even advances in medical technology.
Being able to digitally harness human eye movement will inform marketing, medicine, VR, AR, gaming, and social media. As the technology is perfected, there may even be some uses that are impossible to reach for at this moment.