What are people looking at? What holds their attention? Does our website stand out next to others? These are just a few of the questions Eye-tracking technology aims to answer. With the benefits of this technology, new forms of analytics are no longer restricted to research institutions but are now accessible to a wider market. Applications of this technology include market and medical research, and Usability & UI research. The technology is used in diagnosing diseases, understanding human psychology and behavior, and product analysis.

Furthermore, this blog will look at what Eye Tracking is, the different types, and a few industry usage ways that demonstrate the value the technology provides.

What is Eye-Tracking?

To tell simpler, the technology records and tracks a user’s pupils, the center of their eye, and determines a user’s focus point using a variety of calculations including, angle, reflection, distance, and, in some cases, pupil size.

Eye-tracking usually works by constantly measuring the distance between the pupil center and the reflection of the cornea – the distance changes depending on the angle of the eye. An infrared light, invisible to the human eye, creates this reflection while cameras record and track the movements.

Types of eye-tracking

There are three main ways to perform eye-tracking technologies today; screen-based devices, glasses/headset-based devices, and Virtual Reality (VR) based devices.

Screen-based eye-tracking

Screen-based eye tracking uses an installed webcam combined with software to track what the user is looking at. This camera can be installed above or below the reading medium. While mostly used in combination with a computer screen, as long as the webcam is installed properly and the user is close enough, you can use screen-based eye tracking on other mediums like paper.

When using this method, the user can move a bit but must remain in the eye-trackers range, known as the headbox. The size of this headbox varies across software but generally is big enough for the user to feel unrestricted.

Screen-based methods are most often used in evaluating web pages, designs, and other marketing materials using heat maps, fixation, and duration metrics to evaluate attention and impact.


An unobtrusive, naturalistic screen-based (remote) eye tracking device – Tobii Pro X2-30

Glasses & Headset-based eye-tracking



Glasses and Headset based eye-tracking devices use cameras that are installed close to the user’s eyes. The camera is installed on a pair of eyeglasses or on a headset-based device. Using these devices allows the user total freedom of movement, untamed to any one location.

Glasses and Headset based technology is most often used when respondents need to work with multiple mediums (i.e screens, paper, real-world environments) or when movement is required such as in a lab or supermarket setting. The metrics this version of the technology records are not a lot different from its counterpart devices, but it does utilize more complex versions of Heat maps, fixation sequences, and customer decision-making behavior in order to better understand the customer journey.

VR headset-based eye-tracking

While VR headset eye-tracking could technically fall under the category described above, the unique option to create entire environments, simulations, and visual stimuli put VR into its own category. VR headset methods don’t use different methods from their counterpart devices but do allow testers the flexibility to simulate things that would not be possible in the real world.

VR Headset methods are typically used for complex studies that require controlled environments and stimuli. These environments and stimuli can be easily changed for others or repeated for continued testing. VR eye-tracking gives researchers the flexibility they need to quickly turn their research into actionable results.

VR Headset eye tracking is not quite mainstream yet as most work being done in the industry is by small players for the HTC Vive VR Headset. As bigger players such as Facebook and Google continue to invest in their VR devices, the popularity of eye-tracking in the VR medium may increase a lot.


Different uses of eye-tracking across industry

There are many different uses for eye tracking technology that cover most industries. The most popular uses of this technology are in the fields of market research, Usability/UI testing, and medical research.

Medical Research

Medical researchers are finding new ways to use eye-tracking technology every day. The data researchers now have access to has discovered incredible new ways of diagnosing diseases such as ADHD, Autism, OCD, Schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s/Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, this technology along with other biosensors has been used to notify truck drivers when they are showing signs of drowsiness when driving.

This way of use case often uses other bio-sensory technology in conjunction with eye-tracking in order to arrive at health advice and diagnoses. Medical researchers are often looking at fixation sequences, pupil size, focus point, and other attention-based metrics to better understand what is happening in the human brain.


Usability and UI Research

Image Via Monetizepros

If you have ever visited a website to find information on a product and were upset at how complicated it was to find what you were looking for, it’s likely you end up going to a competitor’s site to buy the product. This type of frustration is often met and is due to poor design choices that hide what your customers are most interested in.

Eye-tracking is a great way to know what your users are looking at and how to best structure your pages so that the most important information to the customer is easily accessible. Most often, heat maps and fixation gazes are utilized to better understand how your current page appearance affects the information a customer is able to find about the product or service they need. Understanding how your customer views your page will let you adjust the page to better display the information that the customer is most interested in, resulting in a higher rate of conversion.

Market Research

Marketing is a constant battle for a customer’s attention. In today’s market environment, every company, both big and small, is a marketer. In such a competitive landscape, understanding how to stand out and grab

Take Away

Eye-tracking technology is well-known as a concept, but most think of it as a small part of today’s market. While that may still be true, eye tracking has slowly come into its own as an analytic technology known for its high return on investment. While many organizations may not have a use or the resources for such a powerful analytic tool, the use of eye-tracking technology can help your organization stay one step ahead of its competitors.