Eye Tracker Part 1 

About this Study

This PowerPoint describes and demonstrates what the Eye Tracker or Gaze Tracker does along with some of the benefits to art.  The Eye Tracker Part 2 PowerPoint will go into further details about using the technology in the classroom as well as benefits and uses in art education.  The Part 1 PowerPoint explains some of the actual results from the pilot study that was completed at the East Carolina University Visual Motor Lab with Dr. Cynthia Bickley-Green, professor at ECU’s School of Art and Design, Dr. Nicholas Murray, professor at ECU’s Visual Motor Lab, Rebecca Muffelmann, an honors undergraduate student and myself, Catherine Olander, a MAEd in Art Education Candidate.  This study and presentation came together in the spring of 2010 as a part of ART 6500, an independent study I did with Dr. Bickley-Green.  Dr. Bickley-Green and I created the abstract artwork that was used for this study.  Our goal was to look for gaze patterns and relationships between lines and colors to see if viewers would have a pattern as they viewed artwork or if their eyes would travel and fixate on certain colors or edges.  One major benefit of the eye tracker technology is that an artist is able to actually see where the viewer’s eyes travel as they look at a work of art instead of guessing where the focal point might be. 

Knowledge Gained

Through this pilot study I gained first-hand knowledge about how the eye tracker technology works.  Dr. Murray gave us instructions on how to calibrate the device to an individual’s pupil as well as how the eye tracker records the eye’s path and fixations as the viewer looks at a work of art.  The same infrared technology that a camera uses to correct red-eye is the same technology that the eye tracker uses to track where someone’s pupil moves as it looks at a work of art.  Light is reflected onto a lens that sends light to the back of the eye, or cornea reflex, and then it bounces back to the lens and then travels to the camera where any movement is recorded. 

Presentation Shared

The PowerPoint was presented at ECU’s Annual Research and Creative Achievement Week in April of 2010.  It will be presented again at the North Carolina Art Educator’s Association conference which will be held in New Bern, NC during September of 2010.

Moving Forward

From this study, new studies are continuing to be created at ECU in order to involve more art students in addition to the art community in North Carolina.  The next study will look at photographs and paintings in order to compare the gaze tracks in both.  ECU’s art department has also acquired access to a mobile eye tracker lab that can be used to track what a viewer sees as they look at both three dimensional artwork along with two dimensional works of art as they walk through a gallery or museum.  It is my hope to use what I learn from the results of this study to enhance my own paintings, as well as pass on the knowledge not only about focal points and the elements of art to my elementary art students, but also to share with them methods in scientific research.