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

Beata Lewandowska
Beata Lewandowska, Customer Success Manager
6 min read

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.

EyeTracking part 1

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:

  • less accurate than other solutions (the angular error is about 4 degrees (follow https://www.hindawi.com/journals/cin/2016/8680541/ to find out more),
  • capturing eye movements only while the participant is interacting with a screen-based interface.

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:

Want to know more? Contact us!

David HotJar
David HotJar
HotJar logo
David Darmanin
CEO, hotjar.com

"I'm really impressed with what Adam has created with RealEye. It's astounding how easy and fast it is to track and report on eye movement for a page or design."

Lewis UX Designer
Lewis UX Designer
Firebox logo
Lewis Healey
UX Designer, firebox.com

"With RealEye, we found users weren't noticing key parts of our value proposition, that we couldn't have discovered with screen recordings or heatmaps. This service is invaluable and even better.....affordable."

Lukasz Koldrys
Lukasz Koldrys
WaveMaker logo
Lucas Koldys
Analytics & Insights Deputy Director, WaveMaker Poland

"RealEye has created a tool that allows us to quickly and easily choose the most effective display or OOH formats."

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Frequently Asked Questions

RealEye studies are proven to be around 100px (~1.5 cm) accurate with an average error on the visual angle of 4.17 deg. This allows analyzing users interaction on a website with precision reaching the size of a single button.
We predict the gaze point with frequency up to 60 Hz.

Check how to get accurate results.

For in-depth analysis of webcam eye-tracking accuracy check the following articles:

Either your own participants or RealEye testers. You can invite your users or panel and share the study with them using a participation link. All they need to have is a laptop/PC with a webcam.

We also have a network of panelists from all around the world - mainly from the UK and the US. Randomly picked users can be assigned to your task. They are called RealEye testers. We will not show them your stimuli before the test starts, so their interaction will be natural.

RealEye is tested and works with the following hardware and software setup:
  • Google Chrome or Firefox web browser,
  • PC/Laptop with Microsoft Windows 10 or Mac (Macbook, iMac) with MacOS,
  • a laptop integrated webcam or USB webcam,
  • RealEye DOES NOT allow running eye-tracking test on a mobile device (smartphone),
  • required screen resolution is 1024x968 pixels or more. Only horizontal screen orientations are supported.
Read more:
  • how to make a webcam to work (https://support.realeye.io/how-to-make-a-webcam-to-work/)
  • how to obtain a 60Hz sampling rate (https://support.realeye.io/webcam-eye-tracking-at-60-hz/)
  • how to obtain the most accurate data (https://support.realeye.io/how-to-get-accurate-results/)
There are only monthly payments, so there’s no possibility to pay per study. But keep in mind, that you can cancel your subscription any time (even in the same month) - you’ll keep the account access until the end of the billing period.
You can easily integrate the RealEye tool with external surveys, but also compare the results obtained from other tools using our CSV file (i.e. by the timestamp).

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