Eye-tracking research has been used for over 100 years to explore the patterns involved in reading text, although eye-tracking equipment has come a long way in that time. This Tobii tracker uses computer vision technology to track a reader’s eyes, recording their location 60 times per second. In this demo, you can see the eye-movements of readers as they process different types of text. Instead of a fluid stream of information, the visual stimulus from our eyes is presented to the mind in bursts. Our eyes fix on certain words for different durations, depending on a number of factors, including the reader’s skill level, the overall difficulty of the text, and the properties of the words themselves. We attend to some words more than others, processing short or common words that we expect to see more quickly than less common words, or lexically or syntactically ambiguous ones. Likewise, we reverse field and re-read when a sequence of letters or a sentence structure frustrates our expectations of linguistic patterns. Wehn we raed txet taht is jubmled, the corerct letetr seuqecnes and pattrens bemcoe doisedrred, tehebry disprtunig the gacrfuel dacne of the eeys. Text with even slight misspellings lead to reductions of 11–36% in reading speed — something that you may have already noticed while attempting to read the exhibition’s introductory text.
Grace Burton & Rebecca Johnson