Tools & Technologies

Tobii Pro Glasses 2 can help bring eye-tracking studies into the industrial world.
By Christina Kach

Seeing better is believing

Erroneous or bungled actions are commonly followed with an exasperated "hindsight is 20/20" as a way to catalog our new insights and rue the issue. We've long known that failing or making a mistake is a learning point to be adapted during the next attempt for iterative improvements toward a goal.

The team at Tobii is setting its sights on making 20/20 hindsight learning a literal option with the introduction of the Tobii Pro Glasses 2.

In partnership with the Pro Insight consulting unit, Tobii develops and sells eye-tracking equipment and analysis services to businesses and universities. The newest offering, the Tobii Pro Glasses 2, is a wearable eye tracker that shows what the user is looking at in real time, along with recording a video of the activities for future review. Resembling a standard pair of eyeglasses, the unit has four eye movement cameras and a wide-angle high-definition scene camera. These cameras record the sight data onto an SD card in the attached recording unit. The glasses also include a microphone for recording sound to accompany the video and rimless lenses for an unobstructed peripheral view of the work.

To supplement the video, Tobii Pro has companion software for reviewing, interpreting and analyzing collected gaze data. This information, for example, can be populated into visual heat maps overlaying the work environment to understand what the eyes are looking at and with what frequency. Other observations in viewing the videos and reviewing the data include: When concentration is broken and why, closer and more detailed views of a procedure, safer reviews of hazardous work and other issues that can result in errors.

Using this information can help inform better, safer and more reliable operations. By recording a worker in action, the video can be used to better understand the finer details of the process. Beyond that, the organization can play the video in a classroom to help set a foundational knowledge base for new hires.

Industrial and systems engineers can apply this technology in a number of arenas. In research, we can seek to understand how we gather information with our eyes, how long we look at things and how often we glance at them. To understand our customers, we can see how they are interacting with our product or service.

In manufacturing settings and beyond, we can better understand the employee's work environment and make better decisions for improved performance. Design teams can measure a customer's attention to messaging and displays. In the classroom, recorded videos can be used for training. Ergonomic professionals can study human factor concerns in a process before they cause harm. Some versions of the Tobii Pro Glasses 2 fit under helmets for sports and industrial settings that require headgear. "Our experience through life is visual" is not an overplayed refrain from Tobii Pro's website, but rather the key part of the company's mission to help businesses make better decisions. Tobii Pro is doing this by improving the way customers and their employees see their experiences through their eyes.

Christina Kach is a process improvement consultant in the service industry based out of Boston. She is a member of IISE Young Professionals.