Eyetracking

Gazehawk Bringing Eyetracking To The Masses

If there was ever a service that could be considered evolutionary in the area of web design, Gazehawk is it. This is an awesome service site in which users are paid to view sites while the software tracks their gaze. It rivals the software of many other sites that offer statistics and charts that cover how many customers have visited a site and how long they stayed on each page. Many companies offer such statistics and one of the most well known names on the web, Google, has one of the most popular.

The unique and most engaging concept for Gazehawk is that the software does not just rely only on computer generated reports to verify results. It involves software and a web cam which results in a greater level of reliability. This gives a more accurate statistical measure.

This new wave of technology, which is referred to as eye tracking, is offered by Gazehawk at lower prices than bigger companies that market technology similar to Gazehawk. This allows them to compete in the market and offer the software to much smaller companies that may not be able to afford the big ticket website monitoring technology that is available.

In addition to lower prices the Gazehawk services and software build extensive relationship in website monitoring that other software and technology simply cannot not duplicate. Many of the competitors for Gazehawk, for example, cannot show the extensive detail of how users interact with your site. Gazehawk however uses the webcam to bring forth an entirely new experience to view how customers view your website. There are colorized charts and a variety of results that not only show you how users use your site but also how you can improve your site.

This software plays an important part in the design for many websites today. There is a great need for companies that are unsure of whether the web design that is in place is in need of improvement. And there is no true way to know this without bringing forth some form of web monitoring via eyetracking into place.

With costs as low as $50 per user Gazehawk is the perfect solution for a problem that has plagued so many companies and their websites.

Eyetracking: Only top 2 search results are highly relevant

Cornell University did an Eye tracking study with 20 students on how much they trust Google's positioning vs. their rational judgments. The results did not much change from previous studies except that when normally using a search engine, the students read the titles and abstracts for the first two search results, and then skimmed through the rest: “The first link was proportionally clicked more often,” said Prof. Thorsten Joachims, computer science, another co-author of the study.

The researchers also manipulated the search results in two ways. For some subjects, the first 10 results appeared in reverse order, with the tenth result showing up first, and for others, the first two results were swapped.

“Even in [those conditions], link number one still got the most clicks,” said Joachims.

Many students, however, had eye movements that indicated they suspected something was amiss. They spent an average of 10.9 seconds looking over the abstracts when they appeared in the reverse order, compared to 6.5 seconds when they appeared in their normal order and 5.8 seconds when the first two results were swapped."

The future of Eyetracking

The Union Tribune has a great article about Eyetracking. The article describes what Eyetracking is currently used for and what could be the future of it. Current Eye tracking studies, that we can see in the online world are pretty simple right now. A few heatmaps here, a few usability studies there. Other industries are far ahead and the Eyetracking reseach is extremly interesting:

"When surgeons operate while wearing an eye-tracking device, researchers can see how each eye is working. “In something like a surgery, where spatial skills are very important, you expect to see a really active left eye,”

Not only in surgery, but also in pilot training programs it is amazing what is already done. But the future of Eyetracking looks even brighter and I am sure that some of the techniques will be able to change the way we use the web:

"At Imperial College in London and elsewhere, scientists have built computer systems roughly controlled by the user's eyes. An infra-red eye-tracking headset tells the computer where on the monitor the user is looking, allowing the user to perform tasks by sight alone, such as moving a cursor or clicking on a function."

This sounds very impressive and we probably don't need a mouse and the keyboard anymore. But it gets even better:

"...Marshall sees improvements coming. Her latest equipment, the computer used by Davis, employs a hidden camera below the monitor, completely unattached to the user.

Anthony Hornof, an associate professor of computer and information science at the University of Oregon, envisions future systems that would be completely transparent – “that can monitor exactly where you are looking down to the pixel level, no matter where your head is in front of the computer.”"

I just can imagine what will happen in the future: Customized Websites and Advertising, that react according to your eye movements and clickstream history. Scary!

Eyes lock on different letters when reading

Researchers from Southampton, England found the following: People combine parts of a word that were on average two letters apart. That means that two eyes basicilly won't work in harmony. When we read our eyes lock on to different letters in the same word instead of scanning a page smoothly from left to right as previously thought.

If these findings can help us writing better ad copies is a question that I cannot answer. Still research like this shows us that the current eyetracking studies have still room to improve.

Eyetracking study confirms Banner Blindness

Jakob Nielsen confirmed again the banner blindness with his new eye tracking study. He writes: "Users almost never look at anything that looks like an advertisement, whether or not it's actually an ad. On hundreds of pages, users didn't fixate on ads. The following heatmaps show three examples that cover a range of user engagement with the content: quick scanning, partial reading, and thorough reading. Scanning is more common than reading, but users will sometimes dig into an article if they really care about it."

Here screenshots to prove his assumptions:

bannerblindness1.jpg

  Entire study