Eyeblink Detection in the Field: A Proof of Concept Study of Two Mobile Optical Eye-Trackers.

Schweizer, Theresa; Wyss, Thomas; Gilgen-Ammann, Rahel (2021). Eyeblink Detection in the Field: A Proof of Concept Study of Two Mobile Optical Eye-Trackers. Military medicine, 187(3-4), pp. 404-409. Oxford University Press 10.1093/milmed/usab032

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High physical and cognitive strain, high pressure, and sleep deficit are part of daily life for military professionals and civilians working in physiologically demanding environments. As a result, cognitive and physical capacities decline and the risk of illness, injury, or accidents increases. Such unfortunate outcomes could be prevented by tracking real-time physiological information, revealing individuals' objective fatigue levels. Oculometrics, and especially eyeblinks, have been shown to be promising biomarkers that reflect fatigue development. Head-mounted optical eye-trackers are a common method to monitor these oculometrics. However, studies measuring eyeblink detection in real-life settings have been lacking in the literature. Therefore, this study aims to validate two current mobile optical eye-trackers in an unrestrained military training environment.; Three male participants (age 20.0 ± 1.0) of the Swiss Armed Forces participated in this study by wearing three optical eye-trackers, two VPS16s (Viewpointsystem GmbH, Vienna, Austria) and one Pupil Core (Pupil Labs GmbH, Berlin, Germany), during four military training events: Healthcare education, orienteering, shooting, and military marching. Software outputs were analyzed against a visual inspection (VI) of the video recordings of participants' eyes via the respective software. Absolute and relative blink numbers were provided. Each blink detected by the software was classified as a "true blink" (TB) when it occurred in the software output and the VI at the same time, as a "false blink" (FB) when it occurred in the software but not in the VI, and as a "missed blink" (MB) when the software failed to detect a blink that occurred in the VI. The FBs were further examined for causes of the incorrect recordings, and they were divided into four categories: "sunlight," "movements," "lost pupil," and "double-counted". Blink frequency (i.e., blinks per minute) was also analyzed.; Overall, 49.3% and 72.5% of registered eyeblinks were classified as TBs for the VPS16 and Pupil Core, respectively. The VPS16 recorded 50.7% of FBs and accounted for 8.5% of MBs, while the Pupil Core recorded 27.5% of FBs and accounted for 55.5% of MBs. The majority of FBs-45.5% and 73.9% for the VPS16 and Pupil Core, respectively-were erroneously recorded due to participants' eye movements while looking up, down, or to one side. For blink frequency analysis, systematic biases (±limits of agreement) stood at 23.3 (±43.5) and -4.87 (±14.1) blinks per minute for the VPS16 and Pupil Core, respectively. Significant differences in systematic bias between devices and the respective VIs were found for nearly all activities (P < .05).; An objective physiological monitoring of fatigue is necessary for soldiers as well as civil professionals who are exposed to higher risks when their cognitive or physical capacities weaken. However, optical eye-trackers' accuracy has not been specified under field conditions-especially not in monitoring fatigue. The significant overestimation and underestimation of the VPS16 and Pupil Core, respectively, demonstrate the general difficulty of blink detection in the field.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


Swiss Federal Institute of Sports Magglingen SFISM > EHSM - Lehre und Sportpädagogik > Monitoring


Schweizer, Theresa;
Wyss, Thomas and
Gilgen-Ammann, Rahel




Oxford University Press




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Date Deposited:

01 Jul 2022 10:44

Last Modified:

01 Jul 2022 10:44

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Additional Information:

An update has been published: Military Medicine, usab509,

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Fatigue Eye movement Biological markers Blinking Military personnel Lehre und Sportpädagogik





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