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Webcam Eye Tracking

What is Webcam Eye Tracking?

Webcam Eye Tracking is detecting an individual’s gaze location using a webcam rather than a real eye tracker with infrared illuminators. It doesn’t require sophisticated equipment and the participants do not have to get to a lab. They can do it remotely behind their screens only with a webcam and good internet connection.

How does Webcam Eye Tracking work?

A conventional eye-tracker is typically a dedicated camera hardware that’s designed and optimized to capture eye movements in all lighting conditions. It can as well compensate for head position variations and an array of physiological variations of the eye region. However, the webcam option simply means getting eye-tracking information from a normal camera. A normal camera is one that would only detect light in the visible spectrum. This is because only a webcam operating with visible light spectrum is needed. For the webcam option, the eye will appear as one big blur consisting both the iris and the pupil.

Webcam eye-tracking utilizes an inbuilt or external camera affixed on a monitor or laptop to collect data on where a person is looking. This method doesn’t use specialized cameras or infrared beams, but rather it uses the image produced from the webcam. An algorithm is then employed to calculate the exact position of the head and eyes, and eye direction is correlated to the image on the screen. Although the depth and precision of data obtained from this method is a bit limited, the method allows for large-scale studies and quick turnaround, which is perfect for quantitative research. This method is suitable for use in early design processes.

Why is Webcam Eye Tracking important?

Webcam-based eye tracking carries the promise of making eye tracking a universal technology. An affordable technology which all devices with embedded cameras can support. In fact, today, almost every mobile device and PC is embedded with a camera. In the case of academic or commercial research, this technology has the potential to gather visual attention data of almost every population, cheap and fast – just like giving out an online survey.

Benefits of using Webcam-based Eye Tracking

Webcam Eye Tracking is a useful tool for doing market research. Most businesses primarily employ this tool for usability testing, and this technique has high value in marketing.

  • It helps businesses find out how best to move visitors around the page so that they go to where they want them to go.
  • It helps businesses discover which calls-to-action are working best.
  • It can also assist in creating more conversions as a result of placing key marketing parts in the most viewed positions on a page.

Webcam-based eye-tracking is a bit different from infrared eye-tracking that uses high precision infrared beams. It uses a webcam to collect information on where a participant is viewing. Due to its simplicity and fast turnaround, it can be particularly helpful in quantitative research and early stages of design. It’s easy, delivers quick results, and above all, it can be done at home instead of a central location testing.

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