Automatic processing of gaze movements to quantify gaze scanning behaviors in a driving simulator


Swan G, Goldstein RB, Savage SW, Zhang L, Ahmadi A, Bowers AR. Automatic processing of gaze movements to quantify gaze scanning behaviors in a driving simulator. Behav Res Methods 2021;53(2):487-506.

Date Published:

2021 Apr


Eye and head movements are used to scan the environment when driving. In particular, when approaching an intersection, large gaze scans to the left and right, comprising head and multiple eye movements, are made. We detail an algorithm called the gaze scan algorithm that automatically quantifies the magnitude, duration, and composition of such large lateral gaze scans. The algorithm works by first detecting lateral saccades, then merging these lateral saccades into gaze scans, with the start and end points of each gaze scan marked in time and eccentricity. We evaluated the algorithm by comparing gaze scans generated by the algorithm to manually marked "consensus ground truth" gaze scans taken from gaze data collected in a high-fidelity driving simulator. We found that the gaze scan algorithm successfully marked 96% of gaze scans and produced magnitudes and durations close to ground truth. Furthermore, the differences between the algorithm and ground truth were similar to the differences found between expert coders. Therefore, the algorithm may be used in lieu of manual marking of gaze data, significantly accelerating the time-consuming marking of gaze movement data in driving simulator studies. The algorithm also complements existing eye tracking and mobility research by quantifying the number, direction, magnitude, and timing of gaze scans and can be used to better understand how individuals scan their environment.

Last updated on 05/01/2021