Measuring visual engagement

Glass head eye-tracker

The visual world can be captivating: the sunrise over an ancient city, the spectacle of a high speed car chase, the tension as an interviewer cross-examines a slippery politician. For individuals and organisations making visual content (including television and films) an important question is: what makes some material engaging and some not?

BVI researchers Iain Gilchrist and Stephen Hinde (building on the early work of Tom Troscianko) have developed a suite of behavioural methods, based on physiological responses such as response time, to measure visual engagement. These have been carefully and rigorously validated to allow us to compare different cuts of a film or different display technologies in terms of their intrinsic immersive properties.

This allows us to maximise visual immersion and engagement and, in turn, deliver the best visual experience for the user. It has been found that these methods are not only applicable to conventional visual media but are also applicable to gaming and developmental learning. Ongoing collaborative research with Lego and the University of Aarhus in Denmark and with BBC R&D is exploring this space.

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