COGAIN Camp 2006 PhD Course

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PhD Course - program (updated 6 September 2006)

September 6-8 at the Politecnico di Torino

Title: Eye-Computer Interaction: Eye Performance and Interface Design

PhD students interested in:

  • usability
  • human computing interaction
  • eye tracking
  • gaze interaction
  • interface design


Recent improvement in eye tracking technology in terms of accuracy permits on the one hand to design more elaborated and sophisticated tasks for the eye, such as zooming or scrolling, and on the other to propose gaze interaction as an alternative to other interaction techniques such as switches, or head pointing… that most of the times require more physical effort from the user. This implies two interesting reflections for researchers:

  • The eye is not a mouse and we should design eye controlled methods to carry out specific tasks. This involves analyzing eye movements and detecting eye potentials for selected actions and improving interface design to incorporate new actions in the most natural and effective way for the eye.
  • Evaluating the eye as an interaction tool. Although the eye seems to be a quicker way of communication it is necessary to carry out systematic comparative studies with other interaction techniques to assure it. This would permit to show the cases where the eye performs better, detecting eye interaction defects and proposing methods to compensate for these problems.


  • Having some interest in human computer interaction.


The Midas Touch problem is a well known matter by the eye tracking community. It describes the difficulty for distinguishing between natural gazing and selection. In other words the differentiation between eye movements oriented to the visual search and the subject’s will of selection of an interface’s object. How do we make a “click” with the eye? Two main solutions have been proposed, dwell time and blinking. Dwell time assumes selection when the user remains a specified amount of time gazing an object from the interface. Blinking assumes selection of the gazed object when the user blinks.

The proposed group work is(*):


(*) Additional group’s work can be proposed. In case you would like to suggest another topic for your work please contact Arantxa Villanueva ( in August.


Wednesday 6/9 Thursday 7/9 Friday 8/9
Welcome (A. Villanueva)
Introduction to usability (P. Majaranta)
Typing quickly and relaxed with the eyes (J. Garbe) Experimental session
9.45-10.30 Eye Patterns (K-J. Räihä) Typing quickly and relaxed with the eyes (J. Garbe) Experimental session
Coffee break Coffee break Coffee break
11.00-11.45 Overview of Measuring Usability (H. Istance) Gaze interaction beyound clicking (J.P. Hansen) Group work presentation
11.45-12.30 Overview of Measuring Usability (H. Istance) Gaze Interaction beyound clicking (J.P. Hansen) Group work presentation
Lunch break Lunch break Lunch break
14.00-14.45 A comparison of eye and head pointing (H. Istance)
14.45-15.30 Experimental session introduction (A. Villanueva)
Coffee break
16.00-16.45 Roel Vertegaal
16.45-17.30 Roel Vertegaal


Päivi Majaranta:

Introduction to usability

What is usability, why is it important and how can it be measured? A brief introduction to usability and its evaluation methods.
[ Slides ] [ Video ]

Päivi Majaranta obtained her M.Sc. in computer science in 1998 from the University of Tampere, where she has given several courses on human-computer interaction and usability. Her research interests are computer-aided communication, multimodal interaction, and especially eye-aware and eye-operated computer interfaces.

Kari-Jouko Räihä:

Eye Patterns

Studies done with eye trackers produce a lot of gaze data. To make sense of that data it has to be summarized in a meaningful way. Eye patterns are an emerging concept that can be used produce overviews of gaze sequences. In particular, they facilitate the comparison of essential differences and similarities between gaze sequences.

This talk will describe the basic concept of eye patterns and algorithms for their computation.
[ Slides ] [ Video ]

Howell Istance:

Overview of Measuring Usability and the role of subjective assessment within this

This talk will cover the history of usability metrics and quantitative approaches to making objective and subjective comparisons. This will be given from human factors perspective. This will include use of eyetracking in the context usability assessment. In additional a number of subjective assessment techniques will be introduced together with some of the statistical assumptions underpinning these, including attitude scaling and signal detection theory.
[ Slides ] [ Video ]

A comparison of eye and head pointing

This talk will look at a number of experimental trials carried out at DMU which have compared performance between the two pointing modalities. This will focus particularly on methodological issues and demonstrate how predictions made about performance improvements can be made and tested using detailed metrics. The purpose of the talk is to expose computer science postgraduates to a number of human factors approaches to the assessment of human performance.
[ Slides ] [ Video ]

Jörn Garbe:

Typing quickly and relaxed with the eyes. A case study comparing switch based and eye controlled input methods

Physically handicapped persons with severe motor impairments cannot use conventional input devices such as mice and keyboards. However, computers provide unparalleled new ways of augmentative and alternative communication. This talk will present a case study of a woman suffering from cerebral palsy who has been using electronic communication aids and non-electronic means of communication for years. Her latest communication aid has been extended from a switch based input approach to an eye controlled interface. The talk will concentrate on the requirements for eye control oriented applications and the potential to increase the speed while reducing stress and exhaustion. Efficiency and effectiveness of different means of communication and control options will be compared.
[ Slides 1.5 MB] Handout 0.7 MB] [ Video ]

Joern U. Garbe was born in 1975 and raised in Koblenz, Germany. He graduated from school in 1994. He attended the University of Koblenz where he studied Computer Science. In 1998 he was awarded a scholarship for two semesters of graduate studies at the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Georgia, USA. At the UGA he attended the Artificial Intelligence Department and the Terry College of Business. In 2001 he finished his graduate studies (Diplom, M.Sc.) and was awarded the highest degree of distinction. Since March 2001 he is working for TiTech VisionSort (former Real Vision Systems) as a system developer and project manager.

John Paulin Hansen:

Gaze Interaction beyond clicking

While selection by gaze is a most common principle, this lecture will clarify some of the disadvantages of gaze (dwell) selections. Alternatives to dwell selection will be presented and a range of suggestions on how to apply gaze interaction in games, interactive videos and navigation in larger-than-screen-images will be provided.
[ Slides ] [ Video ]

John Paulin Hansen, is an Associate Professor at the IT University of Copenhagen. He received a MSc in 1984 and a PhD in 1992 both in Psychology from Institute of Psychology, University of Aarhus. His research areas are human factors, cognitive modelling and gaze-based interaction. John Paulin Hansen has used eye tracking technology for usability studies for more than 15 years and is currently project leader of the Eye Gaze Research Team at the IT University of Copenhagen, designing and managing the development of gaze-based communication systems for disabled people. This group has published more than 30 papers within the last four years.

Roel Vertegaal:

Designing for Groups (of Computers): With an Eye for Attention and Turntaking

This course will focus on the future use of eye contact sensing and cablibration-free eye tracking as a means of "transparent input" for human computer interaction and computer supported collaborative work. We will go through empirical foundations for the use of eye gaze as a means of managing turns in conversations, whether it be between humans or ubiquitous computers. The course will outline issues in designing user interfaces for scenarios in which multiple users and multiple computers interact, and show how designing for attention is key to solving problems of information overload.

Dr. Roel Vertegaal is Associate Professor in Human-Computer Interaction at Queen's University's School of Computing in Canada, where he leads the Human Media Lab, Canada's premier media laboratory. He is also CEO of Xuuk, Inc, a attentive sensor company. Dr. Vertegaal's first degree was in Music at Utrecht Conservatory, and he spent time as a visual artist and photographer at the Vrije Academie in The Hague. Roel holds an MSc in Computing and a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction, from Twente University in The Netherlands. Roel co-chaired the ACM Eye Tracking Research and Applications conference (ETRA), the world's premier eye tracking conference. He co-founded and chaired alt.chi, an alternative papers venue at the prestigious ACM CHI conference, for which he served as associate program chair. His work was awarded with the Premier of Ontario's Research Excellence Award, and was featured on ABC Good Morning America, Discovery Channel's Science Daily and Scientific American, amongst others. Roel's current interest lies in the design of completely transparent computers.


COGAIN members should register to the PhD course using the Camp registration form (Registration closed). Other students interested in the course should contact Arantxa Villanueva ( Please note that the number of students that can be taken into the course is limited.


More photos from the COGAIN 2006 event available at Photos Camp 2006