Readers learn about the many applications of eye tracking technology each week on our blog, in stories ranging from consumer device launches to medical diagnostic research to assistive technologies. However, few people take the time to explore the science behind this technology that is improving lives every day. Here are some interesting facts about the science of eye tracking technology:
- Our brains have evolved a strategy for focusing the eyes on the most information-rich objects available. We rely on our vision system to gather data about the environment, but our eyes can only look at one place at a time. So, our brains direct our eyes to the most important areas in our surroundings from one moment to the next.
- Eye tracking technology offers a glimpse into this process because it allows researchers to observe where our brains choose to look. While eye trackers cannot explain why our brain chooses to focus on specific things, they can measure and record the sequence of visual pointing decisions the brain makes. With this information, we can make inferences about what is important to our underlying cognitive processes.
- Many eye tracking devices are based on video cameras that produce high-resolution images of our irises, pupils, and scleras. These devices work by illuminating the eyes with light emitting diodes (LEDs) that produce reflections off the corneal surfaces to provide critical geometric information about the orientation of the eyeball.
- The image processing function that identifies the eyes within the images is an essential part of an eye tracker. This function also measures the geometric features of the eye elements and computes the spatial positions and orientations of the eyes.
- Eye trackers then project the spatial locations of the eye’s gaze points. For example, if a person is looking at a computer screen, the gaze point may be expressed in x,y screen coordinates.
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