Eye tracking, a method for engineering design research on engineers' behavior while analyzing technical systems
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Author: Matthiesen, Sven; Meboldt, Mirko; Ruckpaul, Anne; Mussgnug, Moritz
Institution: 1: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany; 2: Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, Switzerland
The analysis of technical systems is a central activity in design processes. Engineers need to understand the functions of a system in order to gain inputs for further development. In using design research methods in the area of acquiring functional understanding, data is usually gathered through interviews or observations. Since vision is tightly related to cognition, eye tracking may provide deeper insights into the analyzing behavior of humans. This paper investigates the applicability of different eye tracking technologies for research into function recognition. Pilot studies were conducted to show the practicability of the proposed technologies. In addition to that, the paper introduces relevant analysis methods for raw gaze data. The results suggest that remote and head mounted eye trackers are well suited to observing the behavior of engineers who are analyzing a technical system in different representation forms. Based on these findings, the authors propose the use of eye tracking technologies in qualitative and quantitative empirical studies of how engineers build up understanding of technical systems.