New KTU Eye-Tracking Lab offers insights that are invisible to the naked eye

Important | 2023-12-20

In the recently opened KTU Eye-Tracking Lab, scientists are uncovering insights that can be used for a variety of purposes. “For example, eye-tracking technology allows the detection of fatigue while driving or can be used for testing and training purposes in the medical field,” says Ramunė Kasperė, professor at the KTU Faculty of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities.

According to her, today, eye-tracking technology is widely used in a range of scientific fields. As it enables the assessment and analysis of a person’s gaze trajectory, eye gaze tracking is also used in games, marketing and human-computer interaction.

Use of advanced equipment

Researchers from the fields of education, neuroscience, communication, and philology are conducting research in the new KTU Eye-Tracking Lab.

“KTU scientists participate in the international Multipleye network, which aims to provide scientists with the opportunity to collect data from gaze tracking experimental studies, and share infrastructure and knowledge,” says Prof Kasperė, the Head of the newly opened Lab.

These studies use special eye trackers and software based on non-invasive infrared technology. The devices are not harmful to the human eye.

Eye-tracking lab, KTU
Ramunė Kasperė, the Head of the recently opened KTU Eye-Tracking Lab

The research tracks and records precise gaze movements and fixations when observing images or reading text. Speaking about the application of this technology in linguistic research, the KTU professor mentions the fields of reading, writing, translation and post-editing (machine translation editing).

“For example, tracking the eye gaze during translation and post-editing can reveal how attention is allocated and decisions are made. Gaze monitoring enables a detailed analysis of processes and provides insight into the cognitive world of the human mind,” says Prof Kasperė.

Eye-tracking to improve machine-translation

KTU Eye-tracking Lab
Advanced eye-tracking technology at the new KTU Lab

She gives the example of a complex document translated by translators, which contains only expressions or technical terms typical to the original language. Thanks to eye-tracking technology, one can observe the translators’ eye movements when they encounter such expressions. Their gaze might linger on and examine such a segment for longer, moving between the original text and the target language versions.

She says that machine-translation products that require additional editing to ensure their quality are rapidly entering the market. Eye gaze monitoring can reveal how post-editors interact with machine-translated content and help identify problematic areas in the text or complex language units.

“This could lead to the development of targeted guidelines for improving the quality of machine translation,” explains Prof Kasperė, a Vice-Dean for Research at KTU Faculty of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities.

According to her, the KTU Eye-Tracking Lab pays special attention to the Lithuanian language as there are currently monolingual gaze-tracking datasets in English, Dutch, German and Russian.

KTU eye-tracking lab
Eye-tracking technology allows for the insights invisible to the naked eye.

However, there is a lack of multilingual data sets that would allow comparative studies. The new KTU Eye-Tracking Lab will collect data in the Lithuanian language.

“It will be used in research on human language processing from a psycholinguistic point of view, as well as to improve and evaluate computer language processing from a machine learning point of view,” says Prof Kasperė.