500 Hz remote eye tracker watches what you watch
By Alan Brandon
November 16, 2010
SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) of Germany has launched its latest gaze and eye tracking system called the RED500. Eye tracking is a key research technique for many types of scientific, marketing, and design studies. Billed as the world’s first high-performance and high-speed remote eye tracker, the RED500 features a “scientific grade” 500 Hz sampling rate, binocular tracking, and a portable all-in-one design.
Gaze and eye tracking studies measure and plot the movement of the human eye. In the neuroscience and psychological fields, eye tracking can be used to analyze how we process visual information and to help detect neuro-degenerative diseases or comprehension disorders such as dyslexia. Marketers and designers can use eye tracking to pre-test designs and actually measure what their audience sees and where they focus. Eye tracking has also been used in sports and professional training to improve performance, and there are even security applications.
Eye tracking follows the subjects gaze as they perform a visual task such as reading or interacting with a web site. Far from being a smooth path, a human’s gaze is made up of many quick, minute eye movements called saccades. Saccades are measured in degrees of movement per second, and can reach speeds of up to 1000 degrees per second. The RED500’s 500 Hz sampling rate allows it to capture more saccades, and provide a high resolution measurement of eye movement.
Like previous SMI RED products, the RED500 looks something like a Microsoft Kinect game unit. But instead of connecting to your Xbox, the RED500 can be integrated with a workstation, most EEG systems for medical studies, plus MATLAB or other scientific hardware and software. The RED500 is "remote" in that it does not need to be attached to the subject to measure their eye movements.
The RED500 can be used with computer monitors, TVs, and projector systems. SMI also offers an all-in one version built into a 22-inch display. SMI also offers a free RED API to allow for integration with custom applications. Building on earlier RED models, SMI designed the RED500 with new, faster hardware and algorithms to achieve its higher level of performance.
The RED500 measures eye data such as the eye’s position on a surface and changes in the size of the pupil. Eye color, contacts, and glasses do not affect the measurements. Data can be exported in a variety of formats including SPSS and Excel. Software such as SMI’s Experiment Suite 360 and BeGaze allow you to manage your experiments, identify areas of interest, track the scan path, or visualize a “heat map” showing the most viewed areas.