5 advancements in eye tracking for consumer research

  • by Sylvia Knust
  • 5 min

A couple in the street using Tobii Pro Glasses 3

We take a closer look at the developments in wearable eye tracking that make consumer research easier and more accurate than ever. 

Studying consumers' attention throughout their journey is not new. Many of our traditional methods have looked at attention, yet few have been successful in getting a valid and reliable direct measure. Consumers are asked to come to a central research facility, thus taking them out of the natural environment. Or they are asked to think out loud while they are shopping, but that too alters any natural behaviors and attention. Surveys can be effective, but only touch on the surface of what is going on within the consumer’s mind. Without eye tracking it is virtually impossible to capture the immediate inner experience – but integrating the methodology into market research studies has not always been a walk in the park. 

Overcoming barriers for research through innovation  

The continual advancements, especially in wearable eye tracking technology, now allow for more user-friendly, easier, and faster collection of this data enabling even the novice researcher to gain a deeper understanding of human behavior. Eye trackers of today have overcome barriers like requirements for a central location, uncomfortable headsets, limited field of view and heavy recording systems that prevented the feeling of a natural experience. Advances in technology, methodology and software now allow systems to be out in the world with our consumers, letting us directly observe what they are doing, and more importantly, how they are doing it from their perspective at home, in a car, or in a store, all without disrupting the natural flow of their experience. 

Woman driving a car with Tobii Pro Glasses 3

Let’s take a closer look at the developments driven by Tobii  that make this possible:

1. Unobtrusive design

Tobii Pro Glasses 3 design has become far simpler and more inconspicuous, with sensors and cameras that are molded directly into the glass in a way that is not obvious to the wearer and doesn’t block their line of sight. They have become more lightweight, allowing for longer sessions without causing any discomfort. And data collection is untethered! No need to lug around extra equipment as you move through your typical activities.

2. Better data quality in all use cases

Snap-on lenses with IR-filters have reduced corrupted data due to direct sunlight, opening for a lot more research scenarios than previously possible. Pro Glasses 3 even supports extreme eye angles and the recording of a much wider field of view – all aiming to capture behavior exactly as it happens.

3. Easier and immediate follow-up

Advancements in software support live streaming of attention data so researchers can watch firsthand, whether onsite or remotely, where exactly that person is looking in real-time. It’s easy to observe the shelf, webpage, package, or streaming app along with the user as they see it. There is no longer any lag after sessions, which empowers moderators to conduct much more effective, customized follow-up interviews.

4. Fast access to recordings in the cloud

Cloud recordings are easily and directly uploaded to a central location and analysts can download customized modules permitting streamlined file management, coding, and analysis. It is much faster and far less prone to any corruption or loss of data. Algorithms and visual identification technology deliver more rapid automatic processes, while maintaining the flexibility to manually code attention to a single stimulus for aggregation data and consolidated heatmaps.

5. Easier integration of other biometric data

Software platforms support and integrate additional data streams, allowing researchers to look at eye tracking data along with biofeedback and neuromarketing tools. This, in turn, lets us see where consumers are looking and what their attention is doing to their brain activity and emotional response.

Study consumers' daily lives in their home environment

The sum of these advancements has had a significant impact on how studies can be implemented in the field. Systems are so easy to use, researchers can ship them directly to research participants in their home and provide them with quick online training on how to set up and collect data. They can then continue through their day wearing the glasses, giving us meaningful, holistic, ethnographic, in-home data on consumer attention and behavior. Participants can collect data on themselves over many weeks and continuously upload that data to the researchers, allowing for far more flexibility with research design. In this case study, learn how Google studied consumers in their homes and the insights they gained from it.

In-home research opens doors into experiencing not only the world through the eyes of the consumer, but truly experiencing their world, their environment, their surroundings, and their personal challenges – a deep dive into the customer experience. Insights are richer and more honed to specific customer types and needs. They are far more effective now more than ever to inform how to enhance user experiences, illustrate packages, organize shelves, make ads more effective, all to deliver an experience that fits the customer perfectly.

The search for ‘why?

Your guide to understanding consumer behavior with eye tracking.

Written by

  • Tobii Pro employee Sylvia Knust

    Sylvia Knust

    Director of Tobii Insight, North America

    Sylvia Knust, Director of Tobii Insight, North America, has worked in the field of user experience and design research for nearly 20 years, applying eye tracking to both new and traditional research methods. She is highly experienced in leveraging attention data to better understand consumer perceptions and behaviors and drive high impact business decisions that enhance the consumer experience.

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