All eyes on eye tracking

Physically interacting with interfaces in public places is slowly becoming unthinkable. No wonder in a situation of pandemic. Even crossing the road at a junction will never be the same again, because who wants to touch cross buttons at traffic lights now? In an attempt to rethink established interactions and to ease the post-lockdown experience, we have experimented with eye tracking technology. Bringing a new level of innovation to traffic lights, shops and interactive outdoor communication.

Everybody has become used to navigating with their hands: buttons, mouse, joystick, arrows, controller... Those tools help translate a desire into a result. In other words, our daily interactions with technology imply a certain layer of abstraction between our inner wishes and the outside world (more on that topic in our blog article). In order to remove that additional layer, it is important to question those interactions. Something that is just as topical as ever.

Handsfree please

In order to offer noticeable improvement to our current interactions, convenience is the name of the game, really. The less effort an interaction requires from us, the better. For instance, contactless payment has never been so popular. Something like facial recognition, which is already well established in China, is also gathering pace. But it presents us with a number of additional challenges. What about our privacy? And come to think of it: will face recognition still work with a face mask on or after not seeing a hairdresser for two months? So, it made us think: could eye tracking be a viable solution?


Proof of concept: eye-catching sneakers

At our in-house innovation hub Studio V, we can’t help but experiment with the latest technologies. Obviously, we already had our eyes set on eye tracking for quite some time. Triggered by the challenges posed by the current situation, we developed a very relevant proof of concept. One that works for in-store digital signage as well as for interactive outdoor billboards. As an experimental case, we applied it to sneakers. See for yourself!

The idea? Imagine you’re waiting for the bus and you see the newest sneakers appear on a display at the stop. As you’re looking left and right, you realize that you are browsing the different colors of sneakers directly on the display. By coming closer, you see more details about the shoes. If you can’t take your eyes off them anymore, you get quite a surprising challenge: go unlock your own pair at the nearest store where you can even skip the line. Speaking of improving the user's advertising experience!

So how does eye tracking work? It’s very simple: your eyes become the cursor. Eye tracking allows a very intuitive navigation simply by looking at things: scrolling, clicking, zooming in or out. All the common (inter)actions are possible!


Technology on the rise

In comparison with facial recognition, eye tracking has developed somewhat outside the mainstream as far as the general public is concerned. The gaming industry, however, is already using and investing in the technology eagerly. Controlling something with the eyes gives a considerable advantage over an opponent who is using a controller as an intermediate step. But it’s not the only industry to have jumped on the bandwagon of eye tracking. In the field of consumer research, the technology is being used to analyze what people subconsciously look at first in ads. 

Eye tracking research has even revealed interesting differences in the way men and women look at car adverts: men look at the car, and women look at ... the face of the model that is standing next to it!

Lisa Nevejans

Online Marketeer at Duke & Grace

A new storytelling experience

As simple as it may seem, this new way of navigating also requires a new type of user experience. Being able to steer things with your eyes is one thing. Doing it consciously and intuitively is another. That already raises a question: will people understand that their eyes are acting as a cursor? Or will they think that they are watching a pre-recorded video?

Experimenting with eye tracking is a bit like experimenting with a new way of storytelling. It is therefore important to clearly establish how the technology is best used for maximum impact. Each scenario needs to consider 5 essential phases:

  1. Stopping power: attracting someone's (sub)conscious attention.
  2. Interaction: showing clearly that someone’s gaze influences the way the display reacts in order to retain attention.
  3. Immersion: the more someone visually interacts with the display, the more information they receive.
  4. Call to action: creating engagement by making clear what needs to be done.
  5. Digital outcome: social sharing, crowdsourced data or personal delivery help engage a broader community around the user’s input.

Eyes on the future

As soon as the technology and its proper use are mastered, the list of applications for digital outdoor and indoor displays in a post-lockdown world is endless.

Digital displays are advancing rapidly in Belgium. The medium is becoming more accessible in the streets, in the shops, everywhere. It also offers tremendous user experience opportunities with sensors, detectors, touch technology, AR and now also eye tracking.

Patricia Brackman

Media Expert at Duke & Grace

Eye tracking technology offers a multitude of possibilities for touchless interactions. Safely putting together a McDonald’s menu on the digital screens. Choosing the right size for a new pair of shoes in the line at Torfs. Casting a vote on De Mol, while waiting to catch a bus ... or simply making a traffic light go green without using hands. Whatever the application, we believe that touchless technology will soon completely revolutionize the interactions between brands and consumers. Are you ready to rethink yours? Our innovation team can’t wait to think about your future!

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