Improving the performance of eye trackers with limited spatial accuracy and low sampling rates for reading analysis by heuristic fixation-to-word mapping

  • Oleg Špakov
  • Howell Istance
  • Aulikki Hyrskykari
  • Harri Siirtola
  • Kari-Jouko Räihä


The recent growth in low-cost eye-tracking systems makes it feasible to incorporate real-time measurement and analysis of eye position data into activities such as learning to read. It also enables field studies of reading behavior in the classroom and other learning environments. We present a study of the data quality provided by two remote eye trackers, one being a low-sampling-rate, low-cost system. Then we present two algorithms for mapping fixations derived from the data to the words being read. One is for immediate (or real-time) mapping of fixations to words and the other for deferred (or post hoc) mapping. Following this, an evaluation study is reported. Both studies were carried out in the classroom of a Finnish elementary school with students who were second graders. This study shows very high success rates in automatically mapping fixations to the lines of text being read when the mapping is deferred. The success rates for immediate mapping are comparable with those obtained in earlier studies, although here the data is collected some 10 min after initial calibration of low-sample (30 Hz) remote eye trackers, rather than a laboratory setting using high-sampling-rate trackers. The results provide a solid basis for developing systems for use in classrooms and other learning environments that can provide immediate automatic support with reading, and share data between a group of learners and the teacher of that group. This makes possible new approaches to the learning of reading and comprehension skills.


Low-cost eye tracker Reading aid Fixation mapping algorithm Data quality Elementary school 



The work was supported by the Academy of Finland as part of the GaSP project (Grant number 2501287895). We wish to thank the students of class 2C at Lamminpää School in Tampere, Finland who took part in the work reported here so enthusiastically. Our grateful thanks go as well to Matti Taimi and Suvi Taipale, members of staff at the school, for their great support. Inka Hyrskykari worked as the Research Assistant and ran the data collection trials in the classroom. We also wish to thank the reviewers of the paper for their valuable comments and input.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oleg Špakov
    • 1
  • Howell Istance
    • 1
  • Aulikki Hyrskykari
    • 1
  • Harri Siirtola
    • 1
  • Kari-Jouko Räihä
    • 1
  1. 1.Tampere Unit for Computer-Human InteractionUniversity of TampereTampereFinland

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