13 February, 2023

Eye Tracker Screen Grabbing and Recording Hardware: Technical Deep Dive

Within any kind of multi-screen simulation environment–flight deck, in-vehicle, flight or auto simulator, control room (even the control room of a nuclear power plant)– there is often a need for high resolution recordings for playback with gaze intersection overlay from each of these screens. Software that grabs and records these frames can be very CPU/GPU heavy, which runs the risk that neither the visuals, nor the frame grabbing, works optimally if this software is running on the simulator PC.  

As any of these types of simulators can be very costly (initial investment along with hourly operational costs), it can be much more beneficial and cost/time efficient to implement a hardware frame grabbing solution instead. When facing these types of operational costs, the last thing simulation operators want (or are even permitted!) to do is install a foreign or third-party software on simulator PCs. Not only could it have an impact on the visuals being captured, but it could also cause load and lag issues with the simulator software during experiments and data collection.


Record Multiple Camera Setups with a Single Hardware Solution 

Our video splitter and frame grabber allows researchers to record the screens in which the participant (i.e., driver, pilot or operator) is interacting with, while overlaying gaze intersection. These are often multi-camera system set ups that use the Smart Eye Pro eye tracker together with iMotions software for post-process analysis. iMotions uses an integrated Setup Tool to ensure that the eye tracker knows exactly where the entire screen(s) are located within a 3D world with respect to the participant’s eyes. The iMotions software then allows for a flexible and easy calibration process using defined points throughout the environment. Combined, the two systems allow for the selected screens to be captured and recorded by the frame grabber, with gaze overlay on the playback.

This is a much more viable hardware-only solution, which splits the signal without requiring the installation of any computer software, while allowing for multiple screens. While bar eye tracking solutions also have ways to record screens in simulation environments, they are typically limited to just record the screen that the bar tracker is mounted to—such as a laptop or a single desktop screen. And coupled with the remoteness of the multi-camera eye tracking solution of Smart Eye Pro, the multi-screen grabbing solution further enhances a complete solution to track and record on complex, multi-screen applications with minimal intrusion to the participant, as well as minimal to zero interference with the simulator itself.

One use case example to illustrate this benefit would be in an automotive simulation environment. These eye tracking customers of ours are trying to understand driver eye gaze in a dynamic environment: if the driver is distracted on their phone, do they notice another car drifting into their lane? Do they spot a pedestrian looking to cross? And most importantly, how long, if at all, does it take them to notice these things?

Being able to capture the driver’s gaze on video for further analysis in answer to these questions is really helpful: this multi-screen recording feature enables a more comprehensive view of simulation studies after the fact, making the most out of researcher’s time and money investment in further understanding human behavior in different environments.

eye tracking

Technical Specs

If your project requires the recording of multiple camera angle views, here is a breakdown of the Smart Eye screen grabbing hardware technical specifications for reference:

– Video splitter supports resolutions up to Ultra HD 4K x 2K

– Screen grabbing hardware will downscale a 4k recording to a maximum resolution of 1920×1080

– Included hardware uses HDMI – for customers with a PC / monitor which DVI/DP, adapters to and from HDMI are needed 


The Bottom Line

Regardless of your simulation setup, let us help you record those multiple camera angles with a single hardware solution. Smart Eye’s screen grabber/recorder together with iMotions provides a robust yet streamlined user experience for the researcher, enabling them to discover the next level of insights more efficiently into human behavior without unnecessary software installations. Contact us today to learn more.

Written by Ashley McManus
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