Imagine a reading experience where the story magically happens on the page as you read. Where the letters are filled in while you read, where visual cues and images are used to grasp your attention to propel the story forward or where choices are made based on how you read. All intuitively and never interfering with the physiological workings of your eyes of course. This is what you get when you apply eye tracking to ebooks – if you do it right.
A lot of attention has gone into how to support a reading experience, such as providing definitions of words that are read several times over by the reader, but what if we look at creating an experience instead?
Using theory of human perception, the eye’s physiology, magical sleight-of-hand theory and of course an open source eye tracking software and 2 different working prototypes, we are able to prove the affordances of adopting this view and creating an entirely new type of intuitive interaction.
Testing the prototype, the readers felt engaged way beyond the regular reading experience. They felt engaged through their senses, some were sure the prototype had sound too, as they heard birds chirping, though it was designed entirely as a visual experience and the testing was carried out in an indoors laboratory.
They felt more involved in the story, as if they were part of it and because the prototype followed their reading and magically let things happened, they felt empowered and gained a deeply personal experience, describing the eye tracking as an embodied part of themselves. They became playful readers, interacting with the story in a game-like manner.
The author of the 2 stories we used in the prototype described the technology as a new way for writers to get feedback from their readers and whole new way of thinking about how to design their stories.
Vita Thomsen, Jette Forstholm
Bente Høegh, Nikolaj Lund