At Microsoft, Advanced Reading Technologies (ART) team works towards answering this particular question: how to make it easier and more comfortable to read from computer screens. During my senior year, I had a year-long capstone (called ‘clinic’) project with 4 other senior students and Microsoft’s Advanced Reading Technologies team supervised by Prof. Julie Medero and Rob McKaughan, liaison from Microsoft’s ART.
Reading Analysis Platform: Mindless Reading
Microsoft’s ART team came up with the following idea.
How can we taking advantage of eye tracking systems to make on-screen reading better?
Based on the existing tools from Microsoft’s ART that make people, including ones with dyslexia, easier to learn to read. For this exploratory research project, we narrowed the scope of the problem and decided to make a similar tools but for the more general population (i.e., college students), hence the tools for detecting whether users are mindlessly reading (i.e., reading without comprehending the material). Our team believed that this application will be extremely useful for analyzing which parts of the readings are required to be re-read.
- Classroom settings: Teachers could determine where students are struggling most in a given reading and address the class accordingly.
- Legal work: Lawyers read extensive legal paperwork, and they may gloss over important excerpts if the task becomes monotonous. It would be helpful to have a tool that identifies sections of the text that need to be re-read.
- Reading for leisure: It would be helpful to capture sections of the text that caught the attention of the reader so that they may return to them later.
To find any useful signals, we developed a tool to collect and analyze eye-tracking data while a user read. The eye-tracking data is then used to provide a user with insights regarding their reading behavior. Our team found useful information for detecting mindless reading from these signals.
- Fixation is the type of eye movement where the eye is kept aligned with the target for a certain duration, allowing the image details to be processed.
- Saccades are the type of eye movement used to move the fovea rapidly from one point of interest to another. The time spent at each point is usually lower than that of fixation point.
- Regression is the type of eye movement where the eye is going back to re-read the same content.
Last updated: Jan 17, 2022