Video Highlights from Understanding Human Behavior with Eye Tracking workshop

The Understanding Human Behavior with Eye Tracking workshop was held in the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI) in Nanyang School of Business (Nanyang Technological University) on 21 March 2016. Check out the highlights in the videos below! We’ve also included the interviews with the individual speakers had with our CEO and ACI Fellow, James Breeze.

Three speakers (Dr. Adam Roberts, Haojiang Ying, and Shannon Chia) spoke about how people navigated in indoor environments using certain architectural cues, how people paid covert attention to and perceived emotions with limited facial information, and what athletes paid attention to while playing their sport (badminton) when compared to novices.

Interview with Dr. Adam Roberts

Interview with Ying Haojiang

Interview with Shannon Chia

Eye Tracking the Future – Mixed Reality

Following our previous blog post on the Virtual Reality, we are taking a step ahead to explore Mixed Reality (MR, sometimes also known as Hybrid Reality).

What is Mixed Reality (MR)?

Essentially, MR refers to the merging of both real and virtual reality to create an environment which enables physical and virtual objects to co-exist and interact in real time. Traditional MR has been the main driver for Simulation-based Learning (s-learning), whereby it is used to train apprentices in technical domain, often involving high real-world risk, such as medical procedures, pilot training and military training. MR allows substantial replication of certain aspects of the real world, thus providing a safe, yet realistic, environment to acquire the necessary skills that would be otherwise difficult to acquire in real world settings. If by any chance that you are confused by what is VR, AR (Augmented Reality) & MR, click here (or here) to untangle yourself from the technology jargons.

Current state and the future of MR

Thanks to the publicity and accessibility of current VR technology (notably cheaper and lighter VR Head Mounted Display (HMD) such as the Oculus Rift), MR has been gaining more public attention, as it can provide a more realistic immersive virtual environment than just VR alone. Building on the advantage of using MR in skills learning and findings from scientific research, technology companies has been building “mixed reality classroom” systems (see this article also) to penetrate the rapidly growing EdTech market. Other than learning, MR would also inevitably be the next big platform in the video-gaming industry, which was projected to be the largest market for MR in the next 10 years by Goldman Sachs. The more interesting potential for MR actually lies in the workplace setting, in which Microsoft and Object Theory are working together to build an MR system with the HoloLens for business-related remote collaboration. This not only marks the start of a new form of communication, but also a new form of workplace in the future.

Eye Tracking & MR

Eye tracking is one of the most important research tool that is used in researching driving behaviours and identifying potential hazards that would affect driving safety. Coupled with driving simulators, an eye tracking study can help to study driving behaviours (e.g., visual scan patterns, hazard perception) in risky situations which are impossible to assess safely in real world driving study. Eye tracking in driving simulator studies can also be used as an objective form of comparison with real world driving, enabling designers and engineers of the simulator system to assess whether the driving in the particular simulator indeed resembles real world driving, and whether simulator training indeed translates to real world benefits.

Likewise, eyetracking can be incorporated into other forms of MR simulators easily to help study human behaviours in other potentially hazardous situations. Below are some other examples where eye tracking is used in simulators for various other domains.

Pilot Training Simulator

Flight Control Simulator

Retail Environment Simulator

With the advent of new MR technology and systems, eye tracking can be a powerful tool that can be easily incorporated not just for scientific and market research but also to offer insights into system improvements for better experience.

As you may have known from reading the articles in our blog, eye tracking can be used in a wide variety of research. Check out Tobii Pro’s youtube channel, or continue reading our articles on this blog for more ways you can put your eye-trackers to good use!

If you are interested in how eye tracking can help you and your business, drop us a line at infosg@objectiveexperience.com or +65 67374511. The Future is Now.

 

Thank you to everyone who attended the Eye Tracking workshop and discussion

Thank you to everyone who attended the Understanding Human Behavior with Eye Tracking workshop held at the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI) in Nanyang School of Business (Nanyang Technological University). We heard from a variety of speakers (Dr. Adam Roberts, Haojiang Ying, and Shannon Chia) about how people navigated in indoor environments using certain architectural cues, how people paid covert attention to and perceived emotions with limited facial information, and what athletes paid attention to while playing their sport (badminton) when compared to novices.

Everyone then shared and discussed about eye tracking methodologies, ethical issues, capabilities of the devices, and research ideas. We hope everyone learnt something here, because we at OE certainly did!

ACI-OET

Major thanks to Prof. Gemma Calvert and Samantha Wan in ACI for their efforts in putting this event together.

The event was captured on video! Stay tuned, we’ll share that very soon!

Designing for universal accessibility – Colour Blindness

Ever wonder whether your website or app is accessible to those who are colour blind? No? Then most probably it isn’t.

Colours are one of the most fundamental design elements that every designer relies on. From colour theory to colour psychology, most designers make use of colours to create the biggest impact on their website or app based on how colour affects user’s attitudes and behaviours. However, many do not consider the fact that approximately 8% of men and 0.5% of women are affected by some form of colour-blindness. That would mean an 8% loss of conversion rate if your website or app is not accessible to them!

People that have colour blindness see the world a little bit differently than the majority of us – they do not have the ability to perceive the differences between some of the colours that we normal people can distinguish. That said, most people with colour-blindness are not as “blind” as the term would suggest. People with complete colour blindness (monochromacy or achromatopsia), who can only see the world in shades of grey, are exceedingly rare.

The most common type of colour-blindness is dichromacy in which dichromats have only two cone photopigments, compared to the rest of us which have three. It means that normally most of us can distinguish colours based on a mixture of the three primary colours, while dichromats can only rely on two colours. The picture below shows the 3 subtypes of dichromacy.

It is important to note that red/green colour blindness is the most common (notice that colours look very similar for both deuteranope and protanope). People with red/green blindness have troubles distinguishing reds, greens and yellows of similar values, hence they might not be able to make out words or images in these colours with low value contrast.

So how does the knowledge of how colour-blindness affects users inform design considerations for this group of people. Here’s the main concepts that you need to know:

  • Don’t rely on colours to convey important information

original mrt.PNG     red green blindness mrt.PNG

Since people with colour-blindness have difficulties distinguishing between colours, they would also have trouble making out information that is conveyed based on comparison between colours. A very salient example would be that of the Singapore MRT map (above left) which have their different routes colour-coded. Now if you are suffering from red/green blindness, you will see something like the right picture above.

Someone with colour-blindness might still learn to read the MRT map after a while, but just imagine the amount of cognitive effort they have to make! Based on psychology and UX principles, cognitive strain can create negative feelings and kill conversion rate.

Colours should never be the sole or primary means of communicating information. It may be more appropriate to provide additional means (e.g., patterns, symbols, text) of obtaining the same information conveyed by colours, especially if the information is going to be important.

  • If you really need to use colours to convey important information, increase contrasts between colours to increase visual accessibility

This article outlines various ways to ensure maximize contrasts in order to ensure accessibility for people with colour-blindness. In general, the advice is to use colours with sufficient hue, value (lightness), and chroma (colour purity) contrasts to ensure all essential elements are visually distinguishable and readable.

The easiest way is to lighten light colours and darken dark colours. If not, staying away from reds and greens might be helpful, since red/green blindness are the most common.

 

  • Use a Colour Blindness Simulator to see how your webpage or app looks in the perspective of people with colour blindness

Design Thinking is all about empathy. Without first putting yourself in other people shoes, you will not understand how differently others are perceiving the world as you do. Using a Colour Blindness Simulator like Coblis is the closest way you can experience how your website or app appears to people with colour-blindness.

Ultimately, listening to your users is still the key. Having the goal to design for accessibility is good, but you will never be sure whether you are doing it in a way that will affect the user experience for your main target audience. Using an eye-tracker like the Tobii Pro X2-60 is a powerful method to get feedbacks from both your main target users and users with colour blindness. By analyzing the differences in the way both population are looking at your website or app, we can then use a design that works for both population so that we can maximize conversion rate.

Keep accessibility in mind and we can help those with disadvantages navigate the world easier with design thinking. Let’s design for everyone and make the world a better place to live in for all!

 

“Science has never looked so sexy”

View this post on Instagram

Science has never looked so sexy! #TheBachelor

A post shared by bachelorabc (@bachelorabc) on

 

Is love in the eyes of the beholder?

On a recent episode of ABC’s The Bachelor, the Tobii Pro Glasses 2 was used in a social experiment to test the love and compatibility between the newest Bachelor, software salesman Ben Higgins, and the several ladies competing for his attention.

Will he find true love this time round? The episode was aired on Monday, January 11th, 2016, at 8/7c on ABC. Read more about how they used the Tobii Pro Glasses 2 here!

 

The Emergence of a New Medium – VR and its UX considerations

A very Happy New Year from everyone here at Objective Experience! Hope you guys had a wonderful 2015, and continue to stay awesome. Let’s share the joy and love to everyone by making the world a better place every day and aim towards an even better 2016!

In 2015 we have seen some interesting new trends happening in the technology and UX scene. Notably, we see the emergence of a familiar medium that we are so used to see in science fiction movies – Virtual Reality (VR). Although VR has been around for quite some time now, it was a niche technology that were mostly used as a research tool, as it has been far too expensive and bulky to enter the mainstream market.

In the consumer market arena, Samsung has already announced their new Samsung Gear VR and its corresponding lineup of games and apps, however many are still unaware that VR indeed exists because they have not been educated on it. VR is predicted to be pushed into widespread adoption via the gaming industry, with Sony spearheading the charge. Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus last year could also probably mark the start of an era where VR could replace many of our real-world interactions.  VR could very well be the next computing platform, akin to how smartphones is starting to replace our desktop/laptop computers, as well as change how we live our lives over the last decade.

With the possibility that VR will become the next computing platform that will become increasingly prevalent and integrated into our lives, it seems that the UX community needs to get acquainted with this new medium, because it is our job and passion to make interactive experiences pleasurable. 2016 is poised to be an exciting year for VR, and UX designers can expect to have projects working on the VR medium.

2388290.png

Source: Back To The Future Part 2 (1989)

As the medium is still relatively new, it could be still quite difficult to find good resources on the internet, but fret not, Github user omgmog (Max Glenister) has compiled a really comprehensive list of resources (to date) on UI/UX design considerations for VR. Below is the 3 fundamental UX considerations that is important for a pleasurable VR experience:

1. Immersion / Presence – Perhaps the most important concept that is associated with the UX of VR is “immersion” (or “presence”), so much so that design on the VR platform has been coined “immersive design”. Basically, “immersion” is the extent on how the virtual environment faithfully reproduces experiences in which users believe that the virtual environment is physically real. There are many factors that can “break” immersion, for example, if interaction with a virtual object does not result in any effects, it violates our mental model for object interaction and hence breaking immersion. Unrealistic positional sound effects and model details would also make the object interaction seem less realistic.

 

2. Spatial Disorientation / Virtual Reality Sickness – Research has shown that virtual reality sickness is a major barrier to using VR. The cause behind Virtual Reality Sickness is still not fully known yet, but sensory conflict during movement seems to be the primary cause. In natural navigation, we use a few of our senses in tandem to makes sense of the environment, especially the eyes and the ears. However in VR, this job become primarily subserved by your eyes. The mismatch from the information going into your eyes and the other of your senses creates discomfort and symptoms that are similar to motion sickness. However, the solution to this apparently inherent problem to the VR platform can be as simple as adding virtual noise or twerking virtual reality motion parameters.

 

3. Comfort – Although comfort mainly depends on the hardware design, the design of the software applications contribute to comfort as well. For example, physical movements should be consistent with human ergonomics. If a particular action forces an unnatural twist to the body (e.g., overturning your head while sitting still), it is uncomfortable and can be potentially dangerous. Illegible text (which is pretty common in VR) and overly bright scenes will also impose additional stress on the eyes, causing eye fatigue.

Other than putting the focus on assessing the UX for VR applications, VR can also be a useful tool for general UX research. As mentioned above, VR technology started out mainly as a research tool, thanks to fact that it can handle research that requires ecological validity in a controlled environment. Before VR existed, many research are conducted in a lab-based setting which cannot really be generalized to the “real-world”. With VR, you can attain both criteria by constructing an artificial environment resembling the real-world within a controlled environment. With this in mind, undoubtedly VR can also be useful for UX and market research, specifically in assessing user experience in an unbiased, controlled setting.

VR can also be combined with eye tracking technology to provide more ecological-valid insights to UX research. For example, Tobii Pro offers VR integration with the Tobii Pro Glasses 2, providing an easy way to combine both VR and eye tracking technology into a powerful research tool.

Click here for more details!

 

We Can Help you Empathise With Your Customers

With the recent interest on empathy in design, many designers and researchers in the UX community are writing on this construct and imploring other designers to utilize more empathy in their design process. In fact, a quick search on Google for “Empathy & UX” will net you more articles than you can read in a week!

Unfortunately, interesting as these articles might be, one soon realises that each and every author has their own interpretation of the term “empathy”. From “understanding the feelings and thoughts of others” to “sharing the same feelings as others” or “a feeling of affinity with others”. Empathy is being defined in a variety of ways that do not necessarily coincide with each other. To quote Product Designer Emily Campbell,

“Like most buzzwords that become jargon, the value of the word empathy is being lost in the noise.”

At Object Experience, after self-insight, we believe that empathy is one of the most important assets for a UX’er. This blog post aims to decode this elusive construct and convey to the community exactly how to effectively embrace empathy in the design thinking process, especially with the help of cutting edge research technologies such as eye tracking.

What is empathy?

Source: http://www.stuartduncan.name/general/autism-and-empathy-heres-another-way-to-look-at-it/

Empathy comes from both the Greek root “pathos” which means emotion, feeling, suffering, or pity, as well as the German word “Einfühlung” which was used to refer to the human capacity’ to experience a sense of unity with the artist of a piece of art. Interestingly, the concept of “Einfühlung” helps us to understand that the act of empathizing needs not be limited to human beings, and it can be extended to objects and even ideas and symbols among other things that we can empathize with.

Empathy is a multidimensional construct. In psychology research, empathy has been dissected into two distinct types:

  1. Emotional empathy refers to the ability to understand and identify with someone else’s emotional states without being overtaken by them. This kind of empathy often happens automatically and unconsciously.
  2. Cognitive empathy refers to the objective understanding of other’s perspectives, context, goals and motivations, and is largely consciously driven.

Source: http://www.medicaldaily.com/your-brain-structure-may-decide-how-you-empathize-emotional-brains-are-physically-339996

As with many elusive constructs, empathy receives a fair amount of debate on whether there is a need to distinct it into the 2 above-mentioned types. Some researchers have argued that emotional empathy is a more primitive type of empathy that preempts cognitive empathy and is thus necessarily more important (McLaren, 2013).  However, recent neurocognitive research has found that they are sufficiently different processes in terms of brain region activations, suggesting that cognitive empathy is no less important than emotional empathy (Nummenmaa, Jussi, Riitta, & Jari, 2008). This finding actually partially echos early propositions that argue “true empathy” integrates both types of empathy (Staub, 1987).

Role of empathy in UX Design & Research

Empathy underpins human-centered design and the UX community more than anything else. Developers and designers who do not understand the importance of empathy will find it difficult appreciating how different users think and work, and often assume that every user will approach and solve problems in the same way as themselves. Peter Smart, a designer who had gone on a journey to solve 50 design problems in 50 days mentioned that:

“Empathic research helps us understand our users’ needs beyond the functional, enabling us to develop more appropriate design outcomes. It is one of a raft of valuable processes and tools, on its own seemingly no more important than any other. However, while good designers understand the tools, great designers understand people.”

To put it simply, “great designers” are those who have a thorough and holistic understanding of their users, not just with their overt needs, but also their underlying implicit and latent needs.

Source: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/empathic-design-is-empathy-the-ux-holy-grail

In the UX community, empathy often takes on a strong emotional tone, because an “experience” is often associated to emotions, and companies that capitalize on users’ emotions in their marketing efforts often stand out. This is predominantly because emotions are more primal states of mind than rational thinking, and that the emotional brain processes sensory information much quicker than the cognitive brain.

However, as mentioned above, “great” UX design and empathic research requires a thorough and holistic understanding of users. This requires both emotional and cognitive empathy, and not just either one of them. Cognitive empathy is just as important, as understanding users’ multi-faceted cognitions (e.g. contexts, goals, motivations and problem solving approach) is required to make sense of the emotions and feelings that are elicited.

Developing empathy

Some people are naturally more empathic than others. Highly emphatic people usually have a curious and sensitive personality, and are genuinely curious about others, be it a friend, stranger or even an enemy. They also strive to challenge their own preconceptions and prejudices of others by searching for commonalities, rather than taking human differences on face value.

Source: https://www.scarymommy.com/teach-my-child-empathy/

That does not, however, mean that empathy is an innate trait and cannot be cultivated.

Broadening your horizons is one good way to develop empathy. The greater you immerse yourself into different experiences and expand your social circle, the higher tendency you will share a common experience with others, and hence real connections. Getting out from your comfort zone and travelling to different cultures can be a good way to gain experiences outside of your own community. You will not only appreciate human differences better, but also experience many of the real problems people are facing which you may not have encounter otherwise. If you are low on travelling budget, try helping people in your own community, be it counselling or volunteer work. Experiencing real problems faced by real people yourself is the best way to understand them.

Source: http://theoldrectorydonard.com/mindfulness-retreat-20-september-2015/

Interestingly, empathy also starts from understanding yourself. Practice mindfulness, whether that be yoga, meditation, sport or other pursuits that raise your awareness of your inner voice. Only through a greater awareness of our own attitudes and thought processes, can we then understand that our perceptions of others are often skewed by the self-reference bias that are inherent in all of us. True empathy requires an objective empathic process, and being mindful (intentional, accepting and non-judgmental) definitely helps. If mindfulness is too elusive a construct for you to grasp, maybe learning how to “Listen Better” would be easier to digest.

Deepen empathy with Eye Tracking

The human mind is complex. It’s next to impossible to read someone’s mind even if you are highly empathic, but there are ways to get closer. As far as UX research is concerned, we believe that Eye Tracking is one of the best ways to help us empathise with our users. Eye tracking allows us to directly see unconscious reactions during a usability testing experience, and this reveals what attracts consumers’ attention without requiring us to interrupt participants or expect them remember exactly what they have done. Most humans’ visual behaviour operates below the level of conscious awareness. People simply are not aware where their eyes are going, much less can they recall it.

From our experience, eye tracking helps us to better enquire about a consumer’s experience. When a task is complete, showing the participant where they looked and undertaking an empathic user interview we can gain deep insights into their experience.

One of our UX consultants conducting an user testing session to uncover insights into the thought processes and feelings going through a user’s mind when interacting with a mobile app.

Other than allowing us to deeply understand users, eye tracking numbers also offer a simple way to communicate usability findings and speak a language that executive stakeholders understand. By speaking a common language, we are essentially sharing a common experience, allowing us to be more empathic with one and other.

-Ying Ki and James

References

McLaren, K. (2013). The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life’s Most Essential Skill. Louisville, Colorado: Sounds True.

Nummenmaa, L., Jussi, H., Riitta, P., & Jari, K. H. (2008). Is Emotional Contagion Special? An Fmri Study on Neural Systems for Affective and Cognitive Empathy. NeuroImage, 43(3), 571-580.

Staub, E. (1987). Commentary on Part 1. In N. Eisenberg, & J. Strayer, In Empathy and Its Development (pp. 103-115). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.