Learn how to use RealEye.io - distributed webcam eye-tracking platform.

Adam Cellary
Written by Adam Cellary

What is Eye-Tracking?

Eye-tracking is a state of the art process which tracks users’ eye movements.


Eye tracking is the process of measuring either the point of gaze (where one is looking) or the motion of an eye relative to the head. An eye tracker is a device for measuring eye positions and eye movement. Eye trackers are used in research on the visual system, in psychology, in psycholinguistics, marketing, as an input device for human-computer interaction, and in product design. There are a number of methods for measuring eye movement. The most popular variant uses video images from which the eye position is extracted. Other methods use search coils or are based on the electrooculogram.

In 1980, Just and Carpenter formulated the influential Strong eye-mind hypothesis, that "there is no appreciable lag between what is fixated and what is processed". If this hypothesis is correct, then when a subject looks at a word or object, he or she also thinks about it (process cognitively), and for exactly as long as the recorded fixation. The hypothesis is often taken for granted by researchers using eye-tracking. However, gaze-contingent techniques offer an interesting option in order to disentangle overt and covert attention, to differentiate what is fixated and what is processed.

More recently, there has been growth in using eye tracking to study how users interact with different computer interfaces. Specific questions researchers ask are related to how easy different interfaces are for users. The results of the eye tracking research can lead to changes in the design of the interface. Yet another recent area of research focuses on Web development. This can include how users react to drop-down menus or where they focus their attention on a website so the developer knows where to place an advertisement. The current consensus is that visual attention is always slightly (100 to 250 ms) ahead of the eye. But as soon as attention moves to a new position, the eyes will want to follow.

The most widely used current are video-based eye-trackers. A camera focuses on one or both eyes and records eye movement as the viewer looks at some kind of stimulus. Most modern eye-trackers use the center of the pupil and infrared / near-infrared non-collimated light to create corneal reflections (CR). The vector between the pupil center and the corneal reflections can be used to compute the point of regard on the surface or the gaze direction. A simple calibration procedure of the individual is usually needed before using the eye tracker.

Categories: