History of Eye-Tracking as Research Tool

If you’ve ever wondered what eye-tracking is and where it came from, there is a historical breakdown in the article A Brief History of Eye-Tracking over at UX Booth. The article covers eye-tracking as a research tool, not as a user interface input method, something I think is worth mentioning given the devices I’ve seen and used that track eye movements to allow the physically disabled to use a computer.

In the article the author goes back to 1879 when a French ophthalmologist observed that readers’ eyes often pause on words instead of reading at a steady pace. He covers some other developments without dates until 1931 and then jumps ahead to the 1980s when eye-tracking was used for market research for magazine ads.

The article isn’t intended to be a history of eye-tracking as a usability tool, but the author does get to that point toward the end and references Jakob Nielsen’s book, Eye Tracking Web Usability.

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