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A brief history of eye-tracking

Eye-tracking is a technology that measures where a person is looking and for how long, and its history can be traced back to the late 19th century when Swedish psychologist Friedrich Salomon Krauss demonstrated the principle of eye-tracking. However, it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that eye-tracking technology was developed enough to be used in practical and meaningful ways.

The first practical use of eye-tracking was in the 1950s by psychologist Alfred L. Yarbus, who used it to study visual attention. Yarbus’ work showed that people look at different parts of an image based on their task, and that this could be used to understand the relationship between attention and perception. This was a major breakthrough in the field of psychology and helped lay the foundation for future research in the area of eye-tracking.

In the 1960s and 1970s, eye-tracking technology advanced and was used in fields like psychology, neuroscience, and marketing research. Researchers used it to study visual perception, attention, and memory, and to investigate how people process visual information. The use of eye-tracking in these fields was crucial in advancing our understanding of how the brain processes information and how visual attention works.

The 1980s and 1990s saw even more advancements in eye-tracking technology, with the development of video-based systems that used cameras to track eye movement and computer algorithms to analyze the data. This allowed researchers to study eye movements in greater detail and to explore the relationship between eye movements and cognitive processes such as attention and memory.

How AI sees the history of eye-tracking (Midjourney)

In the 2000s and 2010s, eye-tracking technology continued to advance with the development of remote eye-tracking systems that used infrared cameras. These systems are widely used today in research and commercial applications like usability testing and market research. They have provided important insights into how people interact with technology and how they make purchasing decisions.

Today, eye-tracking is an established and widely used technology with applications in fields like psychology, neuroscience, marketing research, and human-computer interaction. Researchers continue to use eye-tracking to study visual attention and perception and to understand the relationship between eye movements and cognitive processes.

One of the most exciting aspects of eye-tracking technology is its potential to improve our lives. For example, it has already been used in the development of new and more user-friendly interfaces for technology, and it has the potential to be used in areas like medicine, where it could be used to help diagnose and treat conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia.

In conclusion, the history of eye-tracking technology is a story of technological progress and scientific discovery. From the first demonstrations of eye-tracking in the late 19th century to today’s sophisticated systems, eye-tracking has been used to shed light on some of the most fundamental questions about how we see and process visual information. With its potential to improve our lives and its continued advancement, the future of eye-tracking technology looks bright.