Our Tobii X60 setup at SimpleUsability

When upgrading our Tobii 1750 last year we had to decide between buying an integrated eye tracker such as the T60 or a standalone unit like the X60. Whilst most of our web usability research at SimpleUsability is still carried out on a 17 inch 1024 x 768 display, we’ve increasingly needed to use larger HD displays for print and packaging research. So having a standalone unit which we sat infront of different screens seemed the best option.

The main drawback with the remote eye trackers is when the research participant moves the screen to their prefered distance (as they regularly do in sessions). Because the tracker is not physically attached to the screen, you need to take accurate measurements again so that the software knows where the tracker is in relation to the screen. Taking the measurements is easy – it’s just not conducive to relaxing the user at the begining of a session.

To get around this, we put together a setup that’s easy to unpack and run, without having to measure and the users can move things, and the facilitator can adjust the movements to ensure the screen and Tobii X60 are still aligned. The X60 sits on the monitor stand, so you are free to move the whole unit back and forth to meet the preference of the user. All of the kit goes in a flight case. Setting up just involves lifting the screen to maximum stand height and then placing the X60 underneath so that it’s flush with the bottom of the screen. Just for peace of mind, we use the angle finder iPhone app to make sure the X60 angle is set correctly.

We’ve been asked a few times about our setup – so here are a few photos and notes.

We chose the Iyama P1705S 17 LCD Hard Glass Monitor with adjustable stand. Be careful when ordering, because you need to ensure you’re getting the one with the adjustable stand. The glass screen means we can easily clean off fingerprints and pen marks left by participants.

The only modification we made to the stand was to drill two holes to place two socket cap screws for the Tobii X60 to locate on. If you take the metal plate off the base of the stand, there’s room for nuts to hold the bolts in place. I think I spent 3 hours measuring, checking, re-measuring, drawing datum lines, measuring again etc…. then drilling two holes carefully with a pillar drill. Ideally, you want the bolt heads to be in a line parallel to the VESA plate/screen so that the Tobii X60 is central. If you do get it wrong, you can just take measurements to reflect any offset – but having it all central and lined up is best.

The other modification we’ve done is place black vinyl over the logos on both the screen and tracker and led light at the front of the screen, so that there’s no distractions to the user and no “we’re eye tracking you” label on the X60.

If you are planning to copy our setup with a larger monitor, you need to be aware of the angles/range of the tracker. Larger wide screens will mean that the X60 has to be further in front of the monitor to ensure it can track at the extremities of the screen.


Eye Tracking User Group Update

The two day Tobii User Meeting in Frankfurt was fantastic. We were hoping it would be special – and can now confirm it was. 60 pioneers of eye tracking for usability studies, sharing stories and ideas over 2 days and much beer.

I’ve got many pages of notes, which I plan to place on here over the next few weeks.

The first thing I’d like to mention in this quick review is that Tobii is a great company with a world class team. It was great to place faces next to email adresses and confirm that they only seem to employ great people. Anne and the team did a first class job with the event and the hospitality was second to none.

The audience had a good blend of academia and commercial usability people. The latter was very strong in their pressence and passion. Our main competitors in the UK had all fielded a person to attend – so we enjoyed putting faces next to the names and learning a little more about the personalities behind the brands.

A few highlights, without too many spoilers:

  1. There was much debate about the correct use of ‘Current Think Aloud’ and ‘Retrospective Think Aloud’ protocols in illiciting feedback from users in testing with eye tracking equipment.
  2. The validity of a study showing ‘F’ pattern findings reported by a famous usability group was questioned by the majority of the attendees. Throughout the 2 days, there were many heckles of ‘I can see an F’ when various heatmaps were presented.
  3. The infamous ‘golden triangle’ found by a different company, also received similar attention.
  4. There was no agreement on a minimum sample size when conducting usability tests with eye tracking.
  5. Testing methodologies need be fluid to match project and customer needs.
  6. The software used for usability testing has a long way to go.
  7. The new Tobii Studio Software – looks very good and very useful.
  8. There is no alternative to a skilled usability practioner when testing.

One of the more memorable moments was watching a video of a Lemur with a head mounted eye tracking unit. Whilst Tobii don’t build head mounted units, it was a fun thing to watch. Study details here and some video here – we had the pleasure of watching live tracking footage. Lemurs like to watch tails and heads… aparently!

Written by Guy in: eye tracking,heatmaps,tobii,usability |

First Tobii Eye Tracking User Meeting

We’re heading over to Frankfurt today, to attend the first Tobii Eye Tracking User Meeting. Two days of workshops and collaboration between the companies pioneering the use of non-intrusive eye tracking technology. Aparantly the meeting is full and there’s a waiting list – so we’re quite honoured to be going as a team.

We’re hoping to gleen some extra technniques that will enable us to offer an increased level of emperical analysis to our eye tracking studies. It’s a fast moving market and Tobii will be giving us a preview of there next generation of hardware and software. I’ll see how open the Tobii team are to us taking photos and notes for posting here upon return.

Written by Guy in: eye tracking,tobii,usability |