Training and Simulation

Eye tracking can be used to explicitly study, train, and improve desired behaviors that are traditionally cumbersome to learn otherwise. We have several cases of this outlined on the Tobii Pro website.

Many training and simulation examples are greatly enhanced by combining eye tracking with virtual reality. This is especially true when the tasks are traditionally dangerous, difficult, or expensive to do in real life.

Performance Assessment

Eye tracking, as a behavioral research tool, provides a measurement of cognitive load. This makes it possible to evaluate your workers’ performance and adapt training in real time.1

One real-world example is an eye-tracked pilot training system at Toll Helicopters in Sydney, that was launched to support aviation training instructors, pilots and crewmen with intelligent, evidence-based data about pilot scanning techniques and situational awareness. Eye tracking provides them with an objective assessment of what their trainees are looking during a flying sequence, which can then be used to quickly identify scan breakdowns, missed information, attention distribution and standard operating procedure.2

Darryl Humphreys, AW139 Standards Manager and Flight Examiner described the tool as a valuable asset for instructors and pilots:

“For instructors, the ability to see in real time where a student’s eyes are tracking is remarkable. You can observe, analyse and interpret the pilot’s situational awareness. In addition, having the eye tracking auto-recorded for replay during training debriefs offers pilots a comprehensive review tool and the ability to self-remediate areas for improvement."2

According to Toll Helicopters’ General Manager and former Chief Pilot, Colin Gunn, “eye tracking is critical for evidence based training”.2

Professional Training

By using eye tracking to record and replay gaze patterns, you are able to make people aware of their own subconscious eye movements, compare these eye movements with professionals, identify distractions, and measure focus on the most relevant visual elements to the task. When you discover skill gaps, individual training programs can be created and followed up with, in order to streamline tasks, lower costs, and avoid dangerous situations.

The German Heart Center in Berlin has been using Tobii Pro Glasses to improve training and optimize processes in the operating theatre (see video). Here, eye tracking is used to better understand the cognitive processes and attention distribution of perfusionists operating the heart-lung machine during real and simulated procedures. Additionally, reviewed studies have shown that recording a surgeon’s eye movements, time to first fixation and gaze pattern would be beneficial for surgical training.3

Another example is Ovation VR, which is a presentation training software that focuses on overcoming public speaking anxiety and helps people improve on their presentational techniques. In the application, eye tracking helps presenters keep their attention evenly distributed throughout the audience whilst avoiding looking too long at notes or the presentation screen.

Knowledge and Skills Transfer

In almost all high-skill tasks, it is very difficult for the expert to articulate exactly what separates his or her technique from that of a beginner. Using eye tracking, you can quickly and easily compare the visual attention patterns of a novice worker with a more skilled one. This will help you discover what is behind the best practices of the more experienced people on your team. You can turn their individual skills into the company’s knowledge so it can be transferred to new employees.

Tobii is currently involved in a three-year eye tracking study which aims to reduce the skills gap and labor shortage affecting the Swedish metal industry. The project is examining multiple facets of the steel industry in a bid to improve education, training, and certification. The initiative has arisen due to a skills shortage within the industry which is putting increasing pressure on companies to quickly train staff and retain the valuable knowledge held by experienced workers who may be preparing to exit the workforce. There is also a need to overcome language barriers associated with hiring foreign or newly migrated workers. Using eye tracking, Tobii Pro will be examining the visual attention of workers to tap into intrinsic and subconscious behaviors and harness tacit knowledge relating to key skills. Read more about Tobii’s collaboration with the metal industry in Sweden.

There have been several studies conducted in this area. One of them combined knowledge transfer via simulation to enhance process safety in offshore oil operations, where the human factor amounts for more than 70% of offshore incidents and among 75% of them are due to perceptual errors involving rich information displays. A simulation was designed on a commercial oil well drilling control simulator to observe the difference in performances by tracking information acquisition patterns of expert and novice participants. Significant differences in information acquisition patterns of the novice and expert participants were linked to their performance, in order to reveal valuable insights.4


  1. Rosch, Jonathan & Vogel-Walcutt, Jennifer. (2012). A review of eye-tracking applications as tools for training. Cognition, Technology & Work. 15. 10.1007/s10111-012-0234-7. ↩︎

  2. The ACE Training Centre and Seeing Machines to launch unique eye tracking technology trial. 2019-07-03. ↩︎

  3. Merali, Nabeel & Veeramootoo, Darmarajah & Singh, Sukhpal. (2017). Eye-Tracking Technology in Surgical Training. Journal of Investigative Surgery. 32. 1-7. 10.1080/08941939.2017.1404663. ↩︎

  4. Naqvi, Syed Ali Mehdi & Raza, Muhammad & Ghazal, Saima & Salehi, Saeed & Kang, Ziho & Teodoriu, Catalin. (2020). Simulation-based training to enhance process safety in offshore energy operations: Process tracing through eye-tracking. Process Safety and Environmental Protection. 138. 10.1016/j.psep.2020.03.016. ↩︎