Eye-tracking glasses now compatible with hard hats

22 March 2018 | By Denise chevin

The company behind eye-tracking glasses which allow the H&S behaviour of construction workers to be analysed has launched a new version of the technology which can be worn with a hard hat.

Mike Bartels, senior research director at Tobii Pro Insight, said: “Over the past four years, Tobii Pro Glasses 2 has been established as a powerful tool for studying attention of workers onsite and informing workplace safety and efficiency procedures.

“However, the design of this eye-tracking system has made it difficult to implement into some professional environments where protective headwear is necessary during job performance (such as construction sites, or sports).

“The new development of the Helmet edition of Tobii Pro Glasses 2 removes this barrier, and allows eye-tracking technology to be used in virtually any specialised job context.”

Two new versions of Tobii Pro Glasses 2 have been developed to fit easily under helmets and safety accessories, allowing workers to participate in eye-tracking research.

Researchers in the US have used eye-tracking technology to measure the situational awareness of construction workers to understand the causes of human error on the job.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s department of psychology and the vision, attention, memory and perception (VAMP) lab, in collaboration with the SARMAD Research Group, hope the insights obtained can be used to better help workers identify and prevent potential accidents.

Human error is one of the main factors in up to 80% of all occupational accidents. Behind these accidents is the lack of situational awareness – an inability to recognise the critical signs in one’s surrounding environment that may lead to danger.

An important property that affects situational awareness is the limited capacity of a person’s attention. Effectively allocating attention to maintain higher situational awareness plays a key role in detecting hazards and avoiding potential accidents.

Because eye movements play a huge part in processing attention, the researchers employed eye trackers to objectively study the role of cognitive failure (ie inattentiveness) in accidents.

“Eye tracking lets you see the workplace through the worker’s point of view,” said Tom Englund, president of Tobii Pro.

“We can understand the rationale why certain things get noticed while other things are ignored, even if the worker being eye tracked isn’t fully aware of this mental process,” he added. “Armed with this insight, it’s possible to remove items in in the environment that lead to mistakes, or train workers on how best to notice these things on their own.”

In this study the researchers, led by Dr Behzad Esmaeili and also comprising Dr Michael D Dodd and Sogand Hasanzadeh, equipped 14 participants with the Tobii Pro eye-tracking glasses. They were told to navigate a real-world construction site and perform several tasks, all while being exposed to various controlled safety hazards.

The glasses captured live gaze data showing exactly where the workers were looking and how they experienced their surroundings. The data gathered presented a clear picture of what goes into being a “safe worker” and how they went about distributing their attention in a measured and focused way. 

A video on the study can be viewed here.

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