Eye-tracking has become a popular method in many fields, including psychology, medicine, and education, and is widely used to study user behavior when reading maps in cartography. Sequential graphs (or scarf plots) are a typically observed method for visualizing eye-tracking data. However, the existing software has limitations in generating these graphs, especially with dynamic areas of interest (AOI) in data. These limitations have led to a time-consuming process in previous studies to create these graphs.
To address this, the newly created web application GazePlotter automatically creates sequential graphs from eye-tracking software exports, including Tobii Pro Lab, SMI BeGaze, OGAMA, and GazePoint Analysis. These graphs are interactive, support dynamic AOIs, and are customizable. For example, users can plot data on three axes types or change properties of AOIs. They can also export data from the application to raster and vector graphics. Data export to the ScanGraph tool allows users further analyze the similarity between an experiment's participants.
GazePlotter, thanks to being a progressive web application (PWA), enables users to launch it across various web browsers and devices with different operating systems. Since the app does not require access to a remote server, users can also download it for offline use. The modular and easily extensible TypeScript app's code iteratively developed based on the demands of the eye-tracking community, is distributed as open-source. Researchers can therefore add additional features or create their parallel versions themselves.
Continuous cross-browser and unit testing on laboratory eye-tracking data ensured the correct functionality of the app. A comparison with previous cartographic studies that used sequential graphs then successfully verified the tool's efficiency. E.g., in one case with dynamic AOIs, the app reduced the required time for creating scarf plots from several hours to just a few minutes. The resulting visualization was also more interactive and customizable. In addition, several scientific studies at Palacký University in Olomouc have already used beta versions of the app for their purposes. Based on the above, GazePlotter has proven to be an innovative and flexible app whose benefits include increasing the productivity of researchers analyzing AOI eye-tracking data.
The created application, available at https://gazeplotter.com, can improve research in many fields, not just cartography.