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News - Eye-tracking glasses look for airport navigation clues

16th October 2012

Do you love planes, airports and technology? And perhaps you've been lost at an airport at some stage in your travels? If you're nodding your head, you're exactly the type of helpful person Andrew Cave is looking for. The QUT Airports of the Future project researcher needs volunteers to don a highly sophisticated pair of eye-tracking glasses and spend an hour or two with him at the Brisbane International Airport. In addition to some very cool technology, participants will be provided with a travel scenario and then followed on their journey through the airport wearing the Tobii glasses. It's all part of a study into how people use their intuition to navigate their way around airports. "The eye-tracking glasses we are using can capture what you look at and what your eyes focus on while you're moving through an airport terminal," Mr Cave said. "The technology is fairly new and has been used for supermarket research to track what people look at on the shelves, but we believe this is the first time that such a technology is being used for a study in an airport environment. "The eye-tracking glasses look similar to normal spectacles but they have a tiny camera on one arm which is attached via a cable to a small recording device that can be stored in a pocket or clipped to your clothes. "We're interested in what clues people intuitively use to navigate their way through an airport, and what the distractions are. This might include things like signage, airport staff, fellow travellers and the building layout. "We will use these experiments to help develop recommendations on how to improve the passenger navigation experience, which we hope airports throughout Australia will adopt. So, ultimately, people who take part will be helping everyone have a better passenger experience." Mr Cave is a PhD industrial design researcher with QUT's School of Design. His airport research is part of a major long-term project at QUT called Airports of the Future. People interested in taking part in Mr Cave's experiment can email him on for more information. Participants will receive a $20 gift voucher to thank them for their time, and will also be provided with free airport parking on the day. Mr Cave is happy to hear from anyone over 18 who doesn't normally wear glasses and has a driver's licence or a passport or an18+ card. You don't have to be a regular flyer to participate. AIRPORTS OF THE FUTURE The Airports of the Future is a four-year international collaborative research project spanning seven interrelated research programs: Business Process Management; Business Continuity and Incident Response Management; Human Systems; Identity Management; Intelligent Surveillance; Airport Information Modelling; and Complex Systems. The project is led by QUT's Professor Prasad Yarlagadda and aims to explore the complexity of modern airports, particularly addressing conflicts between aviation security and the passenger experience, and provide potential solutions. The Airports of the Future was awarded one of the largest Australian Research Council linkage grants, and engages six Australian and overseas universities, 16 domestic and international airports, seven government agencies and four aviation sector service providers including airlines. For further details please visit Media contact: Mechelle McMahon, QUT media officer, 07 3138 9449 (Mon-Tues) or (Mon-Fri)

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