Apple Vision Pro for Eyetracking Studies
Summary: Compelling (if niche) application for Apple Vision Pro right out of the gate as soon as there’s product availability: Eyetracking in user research.
Even though I am not a huge fan of VR (discussed further in my article about why the Metaverse is hype), here’s why I like the Apple Vision Pro anyway for this hitherto esoteric type of user research.
With a mere $3,500 price tag, the Vision Pro is an extraordinarily affordable eyetracking option compared to its $15K counterparts. Moreover, it boasts enhanced tracking precision, pinpointing the user’s gaze within 4K resolution. It comfortably fits the user, facilitating in-store studies of consumer scanning behaviors across supermarket aisles. The device's weight becomes a non-issue during conventional one-hour usability test sessions of websites, mobile devices, and enterprise software. Participants receiving $100 for an hour-long study won't bat an eyelid wearing a slightly weighty device they wouldn't sport casually all day.
However, we need a software solution to capture, analyze the eyetracking data, and project it onto the test facilitator’s monitor in real-time. Apple, most likely, has already implemented this as an internal development tool. They could make a considerable contribution to the user experience community by launching an eyetracking package. If not, we can expect a third-party solution within months of the product's debut.
Consider this a gratis business proposal for those envisioning kickstarting a software company on the Vision Pro platform. If anyone capitalizes on this idea, feel free to send me a review copy — I'll provide an honest evaluation. But remember, any such product's usability must be top-notch for user researchers, or I won't hesitate to critique it.
The most talented user researcher I have met in my 40-year UX career rightly posted a scathing comment on the usability of most current user-research tools: Let’s do better this time!
Until now, eyetracking has been too expensive and painful for most user research. Whenever I suggest employing eyetracking on a project, I can see the researchers visibly recoil from the idea. If I’m right, this hate of eyetracking will vanish once Vision Pro ships. If you do any form of user research or consumer research, put $7K into your budget for next year to buy two of these headsets and eye-track away!