I was reading an article recently about eye-tracking systems that are being used in the gaming community. While someone is sitting in front of a computer monitor or other electronic device running a video game, this tracking device can see where someone is looking or see the motion of an eye relative to the head.
Eye Tracking has been used in industries such as automotive, medical, aviation, psychology and the Department of Defense. This is also the same technology Google used for Google Glass. Considering its capabilities, I can also see where it would be helpful in the area of website analytics and user behavior.
We currently use Google Analytics to track on each website where users are going when they come to a website. We can see what page they begin their visit on, what page they exit from and each page they visit in between. We can also see how long their visit is on any particular page. With some extra effort, it is possible to find out what links are clicked on. The information we are not able to track is what a user looks at when visiting a website. What attracts their attention? Are they seeing that beautiful graphic we spent 2 hours on to perfect or are they overlooking it because the information they are looking for jumps out at them in 18-point text? Why are they leaving the site? Is it because they found the information they needed? Or is the page they are viewing so cluttered, their eyes busily search the page and then search again, finally giving up?
Throughout my years in web design, I have taken the advice of user experience (UX) studies when designing a website, but some of the information we could gather with eye tracking would be invaluable to a UX or web designer. This technology is not a flawless evaluation of user behavior, but it has come a long way from preliminary analytics and I expect it to continue to improve.