Eye Tracking Provides Insights into Wearable Device Use

By Andrew Schall

Wearables are fun and cool, but aren't always useful or usable

An exciting array of new smart wearable devices are available to consumers, but very few have proven to be useful enough to become a staple of our daily lives.

The wearables experience is very different from that of any other portable device. In the morning a smartwatch might vibrate to get your attention to look at it because you have a meeting in 10 minutes. The device might alert you that you have reached your target heart rate while exercising. The user might then swipe the screen a few times to change to a different song track.

Samsung Gear S2 used during a workout routine. Image courtesy of Samsung.

User experience teams have been able to collect lots of data about usage habits through diary studies and run usability tests to understand if users can use these devices. While informative, these methods are unable to capture the subtle, yet critical behavior of visual attentiveness.

 

Improving the user experience of wearables

Eye tracking can help researchers to better understand how users are viewing wearables and to identify usability issues that might not be detected by direct observation of participants in a usability test. At Key Lime Interactive, we have been working on new methods for analyzing eye tracking data that are most applicable for studying wearables.

Our goal is to establish benchmark metrics for a variety of wearable devices and apps so that we can help our clients understand how their products compare and to make suggestions for improving the user’s experience.

 
Visual attentiveness is key to understanding the UX of wearables
 
Visual attention is still the primary way for users to obtain information from and interact with wearable devices. Users stop, check the device display, interact easily and quickly, and then move on. They spend only seconds in an app at any given time, rather than minutes. By providing just the right information, at just the right time, users can get back to focusing on the real world more quickly.

A poorly designed app requires the user to spend significantly more time looking at the wearable device which then disrupts the user from their primary task and reduces the overall utility of wearing the device.

The user’s interest in engaging with the device can be measured by the frequency with which they look at it. A useful wearable device should be frequently glanced at for short amounts of time, providing bite-sized amounts of information, similar to quick glances at a regular analog watch.

Apple Watch. Courtesy of Apple.

 

For a closer look at how eye tracking can be used to understand your user’s behavior with wearables, check      out our white paper: Eye Tracking on Wearable Devices: Measuring Usability & User Engagement.

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