Comparing eye trackers by correlating their eye-metric data

Behav Res Methods. 2018 Oct;50(5):1853-1863. doi: 10.3758/s13428-017-0954-y.


Up to now, the potential of eye tracking in science as well as in everyday life has not been fully realized because of the high acquisition cost of trackers. Recently, manufacturers have introduced low-cost devices, preparing the way for wider use of this underutilized technology. As soon as scientists show independently of the manufacturers that low-cost devices are accurate enough for application and research, the real advent of eye trackers will have arrived. To facilitate this development, we propose a simple approach for comparing two eye trackers by adopting a method that psychologists have been practicing in diagnostics for decades: correlating constructs to show reliability and validity. In a laboratory study, we ran the newer, low-cost EyeTribe eye tracker and an established SensoMotoric Instruments eye tracker at the same time, positioning one above the other. This design allowed us to directly correlate the eye-tracking metrics of the two devices over time. The experiment was embedded in a research project on memory where 26 participants viewed pictures or words and had to make cognitive judgments afterwards. The outputs of both trackers, that is, the pupil size and point of regard, were highly correlated, as estimated in a mixed effects model. Furthermore, calibration quality explained a substantial amount of individual differences for gaze, but not pupil size. Since data quality is not compromised, we conclude that low-cost eye trackers, in many cases, may be reliable alternatives to established devices.

Keywords: Eye tracking; Low cost; Pupil size.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Comparative Effectiveness Research
  • Correlation of Data
  • Cost Savings
  • Data Accuracy
  • Equipment Design / methods*
  • Eye Movement Measurements* / economics
  • Eye Movement Measurements* / instrumentation
  • Eye Movements
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Pupil*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Young Adult