Restricted focus viewer: a tool for tracking visual attention

Alan F Blackwell, Anthony R Jansen, Kim Marriott

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    Eye-tracking equipment has proven useful in examining the cognitive processes people use when understanding and reasoning with diagrams. However, eye-tracking has several drawbacks: accurate eye-tracking equipment is expensive, often awkward for participants, requires frequent re-calibration and the data can be difficult to interpret. We introduce an alternative tool for diagram research: the Restricted Focus Viewer (RFV). This is a computer program which takes an image, blurs it and displays it on a computer monitor, allowing the participant to see only a small region of the image in focus at any time. The region in focus can be moved using the computer mouse. The RFV records what the participant is focusing on at any point in time. It is cheap, non-intrusive, does not require calibration and provides accurate data about which region is being focused upon. We describe this tool, and also provide an experimental comparison with eye-tracking. We show that the RFV gives similar results to those obtained by Hegarty (1992) when using eye-tracking equipment to investigate reasoning about mechanical diagrams.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationTheory and Application of Diagrams
    Subtitle of host publicationFirst International Conference, Diagrams 2000 Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, September 1-3, 2000 Proceedings
    EditorsMichael Anderson, Peter Cheng, Volker Haarslev
    Place of PublicationBerlin Germany
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Print)3540679154
    Publication statusPublished - 2000
    EventInternational Conference on the Theory and Application of Diagrams 2000 - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    Duration: 1 Sept 20003 Sept 2000
    Conference number: 1st (Proceedings)

    Publication series

    NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
    ISSN (Print)0302-9743


    ConferenceInternational Conference on the Theory and Application of Diagrams 2000
    Abbreviated titleDiagrams 2000
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address

    Cite this