For an eye tracking system to be considered research grade, they need to work in all lighting conditions in order to avoid losing data. A system that fails to collect data in blinding sunlight or a dimly lit room is bound to miss eye movements that could lead to important insights. This is why many cheap eye trackers are unsuitable for research purposes. They also do not provide the wide array of data nor the accuracy that more advanced systems would provide.
Research grade eye tracking systems require capabilities well beyond standard off-the-shelf eye trackers. We will explore some of these advanced features and capabilities that can greatly enhance and simplify your research.
As covered in prior blogs, almost all eye trackers will provide eye gaze vectors, but many standard systems will leave it up to the researcher to determine where the gaze vector intersects the test environment. This can require tremendous time and hassle recalculating the gaze intersections every time the test subject’s head moves.
To avoid that, some of the premium systems can utilize a 3D world model to replicate key items in the test environment. The 3D world model is essentially a wire-frame replication of important items in the test environment. This model allows the researcher to capture data in X, Y, Z format and to also see real-time eye gaze intersections with the critical items in the test environment.
As you can imagine, this capability greatly simplifies the testing and analysis process in the following ways:
– Research grade systems tend to provide several data streaming options such as UDP or TCP to stream your data to another PC or simulator.
– They also support multiple file formats such as Excel or Matlab, or if you are doing automotive testing, they can output to a CAN Bus.
– Some tracking systems can even support integrating data feeds with simulators,test PCs, and other biosensors. This can even include time stamping and time syncing multiple data streams together using Network Time Protocol.
– Time Stamping is especially useful for analyzing reactions to stimuli during research.
– Some advanced systems even include an API for remote control of the eye tracking system to start / stop data recording sessions and to perform several other tasks such as calibrating and user profiling.
– Being able to record audio and video can be a critical feature for many research projects.