Mobile Device Usage Influences Gaze Patterns to Obstacles During Locomotion

May 23, 2016

Dr. Benjamin Lester, Dr. Robert Rauschenberger, Dr. Douglas Young, and co-authors published "Mobile Device Usage Influences Gaze Patterns to Obstacles During Locomotion." The article was initially prepared for the 2016 Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Conference and is available on ResearchGate.

Fall-related injuries are a leading cause of emergency room visits in the U.S. and the primary cause of lost workplace productivity. An individual's risk for an incident is influenced by several factors, including attentional demands, visual acuity, and gait patterns. Daily risks may be further compounded by simultaneous use of commonplace mobile technologies, which potentially limit visual awareness and place additional demands on resource-limited cognitive processes.

The purpose of this investigation was to examine the influence of texting on gaze behavior during the approach and ascent phases of stairway navigation. Wireless eye-tracking was used to record gaze during locomotion, with and without concurrent texting. Semantic Gaze Mapping (SMI, Inc.) was used to co-register participants' gaze to different areas of interest (AOIs).

Texting resulted in significant reductions in stairway eye fixation dwell times, average fixation time, and the number of times the stairway was fixated. However, this pattern was not uniform. Rather, when participants divided their attention, the decrease in gaze concentration was greater for the second step compared to the first step. These findings suggest a complex interaction between technology use and locomotion, in which mobile technologies may shift attention to more "immediate" surfaces, narrowing observers' utilized field of view.

Click here to view the article.