Virtual Reality meets Eye Tracking: A Game Changer

VR and eye tracking aren’t new on their own, but when the two are combined, they offer a powerful new tool for conducting marketing research and Explorer is proud to be at the forefront of this revolution.

VR with eye tracking measures the percent of people who notice different elements (signs, packages, displays, etc.) as well as reengagement in the form of gaze plots or heat maps. Our eyes deselect while shopping and we only read approximately 15 words during an entire stock up grocery trip. The majority of any message is received through our eyes making it one of the most important physiological cues to measure. By working with eye tracking in virtual reality, you have full control over your study and know exactly where the participants’ visual attention is at every moment.

With traditional VR you can measure sales of what someone purchased but you may not know why. Eye tracking can help understand what is shaping behavior at shelf, what are the landmark brands, what is not being viewed at shelf and what is being viewed most often. The movement of the eyes provides information about much more than what we are looking at. Eye tracking is a measure of what draws our attention and for how long it keeps it. Eye tracking in VR has the unique ability to tap into our basic human emotions in a way that will pull the user deeper into the VR experience.

We use our eyes to communicate social information all the time. We roll our eyes to express frustration and open our eyelids wide to show surprise. Eye tracking can capture all of the nuances with which we move our eyes and convey that information in social VR applications.

Incorporating eye tracking into VR headsets also allows for foveated rendering. This allows a much higher quality and realistic image to be displayed inside the VR headset as the computer only needs to render what the user is directly looking at and not what is in his or her peripheral vision. Rendering is faster because it can match the quality to your gaze direction. Areas in the center of your vision render in high resolutions while areas away from the center show in lower resolution.

Eye tracking is the essential technology tool that will push VR to the next level. Eye tracking is to VR what the mouse was to the personal computer, the scroll wheel on the iPod was to the personal music player and the multi-touch screen was to the smartphone. These were all key user interface breakthroughs that pushed their respective technology into the main stream. Similarly, eye tracking is the key enabling technology that will push VR into the main stream. Eye tracking enables major improvements in the way users express themselves and see high fidelity graphics in virtual reality.

Anne Stephenson
Partner, Explorer Research

anne stephenson

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