Exploring the potential of a mobile eye tracker as an intuitive indoor pointing device: A case study in cultural heritage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current technology offers a variety of ways for context-aware information delivery to mobile users. The most challenging aspect, however, is to determine what the user is interested in. The user's position is the best available hint, but if we know what the user is looking at and what his or her gazing profile is, we can narrow down the possibly relevant objects of interest. With the advent of mobile and ubiquitous computing, it is time to explore the potential of mobile eye tracking technology for natural, intelligent interactions between users and their smart environment, not only for specific tasks, but also for the more ambitious goal of integrating eye tracking into the process of inferring mobile users’ interests, for the purpose of providing them with relevant services, a research area that has received little attention so far. In this work, we examine the potential of integrating a mobile eye tracker, as a natural interaction device, into an audio guide system for museum visitors. Using it as a pointing device enables the system to reason unobtrusively about the user's focus of attention and to deliver relevant information about it as needed. To realize this goal, we integrated an image-matching based technique for indoor positioning and an eye-gaze detection technique to identify the user's focus of attention into two different versions of a mobile audio guide: (1) a proactive version that delivers information automatically whenever user interest is detected, and (2) a reactive version that notifies the user about the availability of this information, thus giving the user more control over information delivery. Furthermore, we developed a conventional museum visitors’ mobile guide system using a smartphone and low-energy Bluetooth beacons for positioning; this guide was used as a reference system. The three museum visitors’ guides were evaluated in realistic settings at the Hecht1 Museum, a small museum, located at the University of Haifa that has both archeological and art collections. The experimental evaluation compared the contribution of the three versions of the audio guide to the visit experience. The results showed that the mobile eye tracking technology, although unfamiliar, and perhaps even immature, was accepted by the participants. The mobile eye tracker audio guide was perceived as preferable to the conventional museum mobile guide, especially with regard to learning during the visit. Furthermore, with regard to proactivity in context-aware systems, the results showed that the participants like to be in control, and that most of them preferred the reactive version of the mobile eye tracker audio guide over the proactive one.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-541
Number of pages14
JournalFuture Generation Computer Systems
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Mobile eye tracking
  • Museum visitors guide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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