Eye tracking technology has been very instrumental in many scientific fields in recent years. It has been used in some studies to monitor where a persons focus and attention lie when looking at images and videos of social interaction, allowing medical researchers to detect differences in how autistic people observe the world around them.
They are also used to monitor where people look when using computers and handheld devices. Determining what areas of the screen garner the most attention, and which features and bits of information go largely unnoticed can help developers create more user friendly apps and technologies.
The devices used to monitor these eye movements have been large, and less than portable. Like any kind of modern technology, there is a huge advantage to shrinking the size and becoming cordless.
SMI-Industry has worked to develop just such a tool, but miniaturization usually requires compromise. The new tracking glasses look much like a normal set of sunglasses, with some thicker bits around the edges. They can be worn comfortably, and can monitor the wearer’s eyes as they scan back and forth, viewing whatever may be in front of them.
These glasses operate at 120Hz, meaning they take 120 samples each and every second. This may sound like a lot, but when compared to the desktop versions, which operate at 1000 Hz, they seem to under perform, on paper at least.
Having a higher sample rate means that more information is gathered on where the eyes are aiming at any given moment, how long they hold their gaze, and how quickly they move from focal point to focal point.
A slower sample rate may blur those readings, and might not be able to keep up with the quick motions of the human eye.
To test whether or not the new glasses were up to the task, a sample pair was provided to Professor Ralf Engbert of the University of Potsdam, Germany, who then evaluated them for several weeks, and in his trained and professional opinion, these new glasses do the job just fine. According to Professor Ralf Engbert “Statistical analyses using surrogate data indicate that saccades of all sizes above the micro-range, meaning amplitudes greater than 1°, can be identified reliably.” In normal terms, that means that these glasses can provide useful data without blurring the results, or losing track of the finer eye movements.
But Dr. Engbert wasn’t the only one tasked with testing the new glasses. More than 100,000 other participants have reported back on the abilities of the eye tracking device, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.