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VR eye tracking for studying consumer behaviour

VR eye tracking is an advanced technology that gathers essential data about how people interact with visual stimuli. It has clear VR enterprise applications, in helping brands understand what appeals to consumers.

Attracting consumers to a product is critical to its success. People’s first encounters tend to be visual, so where someone’s eyes rest, and for how long, can be provide vital information to marketing professionals. It can tell them what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to attracting the consumer’s interest.

When people respond to visual stimuli, they pay attention to some things more than others. The eyes are in constant communication with the brain the whole time. Therefore, tracking eye movements provides insights to thought processes and reactions.

What is VR Eye Tracking?

VR eye tracking uses virtual reality technology to track the eye movements of an individual who is interacting with this technology. This involves that person wearing a high-fidelity VR headset that has integrated eye tracking. This eye-tracking capability is essential for enhancing the VR experience, since it enables the VR software to respond to the user’s eye movements.

Eye tracking provides useful insights into where the user’s visual attention is at any given moment, and what visual elements are triggering particular reactions. It reveals what is going on behind someone’s subconscious reactions within a virtual scenario. It enables natural interactions between the individual participant and the virtual world they are experiencing. This helps make the whole VR experience more immersive.

The key components of VR eye tracking are:

  • A VR device
  • Eye tracking technology
  • Data analysis.

How Does VR Eye Tracking Work?

VR eye tracking takes constant measurements of the distance between the centre of the pupil and the reflection of the cornea. This distance will change depending on the angle of the eye. The principle behind eye-tracking technology is that infrared light invisible to the human eye creates the reflection of the cornea, and at the same time cameras record and track the eye movements. These recorded angles of the eyes provide the crucial data for computer algorithms to then deduce the angle of the eyes when the person directs their gaze at something.

In the real world, eyes display vergence. Here, the angle of the eyes is directed towards a central point. In VR, there is a difference; the eyes may not necessarily be pointing towards where the person is looking, because the VR display is positioned right in front of the eyes.

There is a perception of depth, but this comes from the 3D the VR is generating. Essentially, this means VR eye tracking is missing gaze information, but VR technology addresses this. It takes data about virtual objects within its environment and constructs a model of what the eye has looked at.

This capability generates accurate VR eye tracking.

What Are the Benefits of Eye Tracking in VR?

VR eye tracking is a valuable research tool. Generally, rendering complete virtual environments is expensive in both time and resources, involving a great deal of processing power. By using eye tracking information, you can carry out foveated rendering in VR. Effectively, the VR technology only renders those objects in the VR environment that the eye is looking at.

This actually creates a more immersive environment for the user, as it echoes how they look at things in the real world.

In the real world, your peripheral vision is largely blurred. The blurring process is known as accommodation. By creating a peripheral blur in VR, this increases a sense of depth perception. From a research perspective, because foveated rendering helps VR mimic reality more closely, it means there can be an assumption that the behaviour of people experiencing VR is close to real life. Consequently, in using VR eye tracking, researchers can measure attentional processes and trust them to be true to life.

By using VR settings, you can gain understanding and insights to human behaviour without having to deal with the cost implications or practical restrictions of conducting such studies in the real world.

How to Study Consumer Behaviour Using Eye Tracking Data

Eye movements can be extremely revealing of how people think, feel, and act. VR eye tracking provides useful quantitative data. In the consumer context, brands want to stand out and be seen. Eye tracking helps them determine the effectiveness of their marketing, advertising and packaging. To do this, there needs to be a virtual scenario in which the participant wears a VR headset, equipped with head-mounted eye tracking. Because the VR headset isolates the participant from other potential distractions, and allows free movement, this can increase the quality of data gathered from eye tracking.

As participants in research interact with photorealistic objects and environments, integrated eye-tracking offers opportunities to gain immediate but reliable insights into what they see and experience. The VR environment makes the test conditions repeatable, but researchers can also try out different scenarios. It is also a highly portable form of research, easy to transport and set-up in various locations.

The World Most Advanced VR headsets

Studying consumer behaviour is a critical factor in successful retail marketing and sales. By harnessing the power of virtual experiences, you can explore a huge range of aspects of consumer behaviour, and assess and analyse marketing processes.

In partnership with Varjo, we offer this VR capability, combining immersive virtual scenarios with leading-edge VR headsets and eye-tracking technology. Varjo provides these VR eye tracking solutions, with its innovative Varjo Base 2.3 software and integrated 20/20 Eye Tracker human-eye resolution headset.

Using these advanced tools, you can analyse the decisions consumers make, and the motivations that drive them to choose specific products.

You can also gain valuable qualitative data on product placement and sales figures.

For more information about the VR eye tracking for consumer research, please contact us.

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