How to Innovate Driver Training Simulator Systems with Eye Tracking Attention Insights

Eye tracking technology can help professionals in the automotive industry design better driving simulators and training programs. By generating and analyzing driver attention metrics, driver’s simulator manufacturers and trainers alike can ensure a safer experience behind the wheel and on the road.

Even more, a 3D eye tracking driving simulator setup, in particular, provides unprecedented insights into visual attention, situational awareness, and habitual driver behavior.

We’ll break down current industry challenges and the solutions 3D eye tracking brings to the table below.

Problem: Driver Training Programs Challenges

The global driving simulator market is projected to experience remarkable growth within the next five years. As of late, some countries have even made simulator training compulsory for all future drivers.

Still, in spite of the continuous development of the driving simulator industry, manufacturing companies and driver instructors face a series of challenges and limitations in training programs.

Driver Attention Guesswork

From a psychological point of view, a standard low level simulator does not have the capacity to reveal and measure a trainee’s attention and cognitive load.

To put it simply, as a trainer, you can evaluate the what – learner’s actions – but not the how or why – attention, perception, intention. This applies to both regular driving habits and instinctive actions in emergency situations. You can only guess, probe, and assume the reasons.

Unearthing the root cause of a trainee’s behavior is critical for monitoring, identifying, and correcting potentially dangerous habits.

Trainee-trainer Communication Gaps

The average driver’s simulator environment requires the trainer to be positioned behind the trainee. In terms of communication, this creates a two-way block:

  1. Inadequate assessment – not being able to see where the learner is looking and if he or she is going through the proper visual sequences.
  2. Environmental distraction – if the trainee knows that the supervisor is behind them, he or she will be unconsciously pressured to act and react in an unnatural manner.

However, by using a 3D eye tracking software solution like GazeSense, the trainer won’t even have to be in the same room as the learner during practice sessions. Our software facilitates the remote and non-intrusive monitoring of eye movements and visual attention in real time.


Reach out to our team via direct message to find out how 3D eye tracking can assist your company in generating powerful driver attention insights in simulation training.


Excessive Use of Resources

A lack of accurate driver attention data results in a considerably greater investment in training programs.

Trainees require more time to learn and trainers more time to assess performance. Even when the training process is technically complete, the trainer won’t have a full understanding of the learner’s behavior.

In addition to this, the financial resources allocated for training will only increase in proportion to the necessary time invested.

Driver Training Simulator

Source: Wikipedia

Nevertheless, a data-centric approach with eye tracking technology can cut costs across the board.

Solution: How a 3D Eye Tracking Driving Simulator Environment Can Help

So, we know what some of the main issues manufacturers, trainers, and other auto simulation professionals are confronted with. We also know that a viable solution is creating a 3D eye tracking driving simulator environment for training programs.

But on a specific level – how does the technology enable companies to better understand driver attention and behavior? What data and metrics are involved? Why are the subsequent insights so valuable in driver’s education?

With 3D eye tracking, driving trainers and simulator manufacturers can:

Detect Onset of Fatigue and Drowsiness

According to research conducted by the NHTSA, sleepiness behind the wheel leads to human performance impairments like “slower reaction time”, “reduced vigilance, and “deficits in information processing”. The Transport Accident Commission adds that driver fatigue results in approximately 20% of all car crash deaths.

A driver-trainee’s eye movements and gaze patterns can reveal clear signs of drowsiness. 

If they experienced fatigue during a session, the trainer will have concrete data to connect the cognitive state to the learner’s performance and emphasize the importance of rest prior to driving.

Correct Driver Behavior and Habits

How often does the trainee-driver check mirrors? What about the speedometer? When a distraction arises – whether visual, manual, or cognitive –, what is the response? These questions would be impossible to answer without knowing when and where the driver is looking.

Automotive Eye Tracking

In order to address unwanted driving habits and develop effective ones, you can use eye tracking data for a hands-on approach to behavior correction. You can not only see what the trainee checked but also what dashboard elements they ignored entirely.

Build Situational Awareness

3D eye tracking allows you to test a learner’s instincts in unforeseen circumstances. You can assess and work on how they react in low visibility conditions, such as heavy rain or snowstorms. Additionally, you can increase accident prevention by evaluating performance in case of vehicle malfunctions or other emergencies.

Developing situational awareness as part of a driver’s simulator program is imperative for ensuring immediate appropriate reactions during unexpected events.

Monitor Performance Progress

By collecting gaze tracking data throughout the training program, the trainer is able to compare the learner’s performance from session to session. The data is streamed in real time and, after that, stored for subsequent evaluation. Therefore, the trainee’s behavioral and cognitive progress will be easier to track and review.

Eye Tracking Driving Training Simulator Example

Moreover, there is no need to resort to assumptions or risk encountering flawed data. 3D eye tracking metrics are accurate, easy to decipher, and objective. This allows the supervisor to take an unbiased and competent stance in the training relationship.

Create Realistic Driver Training Environment

In the case of a low level driver’s simulator, it can be challenging to recreate the conditions of a full car cabin. Be that as it may, 3D eye tracking provides all the necessary tech components to form and monitor a natural and immersive driving experience.

The lack of headgear or other bulky recording devices removes distractions from the trainee’s environment. From there, all the learner has to do is focus on performing the right visual sequences and reacting to the virtual simulation elements.

Evaluate Driver’s Simulator Design

On the manufacturer’s part, it is essential to design, develop, and build a simulator that is as true-to-life as can be. The dashboard, controls, and interactive elements all play a decisive role in how a person undergoes a driver training program.

Driver Simulator

Source: U.S. Air Force

Despite research and A/B testing efforts, there will always be improvements that only a real trainee experience can reveal. 

By analyzing metrics that pertain to driver attention (or lack thereof), companies will have the actionable insights needed to re-evaluate designs and build better simulator models.

Provide Hands-on Trainee Feedback

Instead of simply telling a trainee what they did right, wrong, or not at all during a practice session, show them with eye tracking results. This technology forges a stronger and more interactive relationship between trainer and trainee through improved debriefings.

Based on the data output from 3D eye tracking software, instructors can deliver objective and effective feedback, all while engaging the future driver in adaptive learning.

Use Data to Increase Safety

You’ve read the statistics. Don’t risk adding to the already alarming number of car crash accidents and fatalities by overlooking any safety-related aspect in simulation training. 

Whether it be design-oriented or performance-based, every visual, cognitive, and behavioral element contributes to the success or failure of a driving simulator. That’s where data steps in.

Driver Simulation Gaze Tracking

Gaze tracking data points out gaps, blind spots, and objects of interest that only the driver-trainee can see when behind the wheel. The only way an instructor can get the same view is by collecting the eye information, generating the data, and transforming it into driver attention insights.

Cut Costs and Time for Driver Training

We already know that eye tracking reduces the amount of financial and time-related resources required for effective driver training programs. However, standard eye tracking almost always requires some sort of headgear that increases the overall investment rather than lowering it.

3D eye tracking, on the other hand, quite literally has no strings attached. If you have a consumer 3D camera, all you have to do is implement the affordable software to start monitoring trainees’ eye movements. 

As far as equipment, hours, and human resources go, it’s the most cost-effective asset for driving simulators.

Upgrade: GazeSense, Our 3D Eye Tracking Software for Driver Attention Metrics

Our team has developed an accessible solution for an engaging 3D eye tracking driving simulator experience. GazeSense advances human-machine interaction, facilitates a realistic training setting, and creates the optimum conditions for driver simulations.

Non-intrusive Driver Attention Monitoring

In a driver’s simulator, just like in a real-life scenario, any additional distractions are inadmissible. To ensure the trainee’s focus is only on the driving task at hand, we have designed our software to be independent of eye tracking headgear.

You don’t need glasses, you don’t need headsets, you don’t need an eye tracker device of any kind. When paired with a subtle 3D camera, our software automatically records eye movements from a distance. The camera can be positioned up to 4.3 feet (1.3 meters) away from the trainee on the dashboard and accurately collect driver attention data.

Testing Environment Adaptability

A competent driver needs to be prepared for any lighting conditions on the road, whether driving in broad daylight, the middle of the night, or low-light weather.

3D Eye Tracking For Driving Simulator Training

Therefore, our 3D eye tracking solution can be adapted to recreate any authentic driving setting. Its low-light compatibility makes it ideal for tracking in any dim or bright practice environments.

Livestream Attention Data

During training sessions, the supervisor can observe driver attention as it is being distributed within the driving simulator. 3D eye tracking ensures real-time data output, allowing corrections to be made on the spot.

After each session, the attention data can be saved for providing face-to-face trainee feedback.

Heatmaps, Gaze Plots, and Additional Metrics

In order to interpret eye tracking data, you need to output it in a comprehensible format for both trainer and trainee. This is where metrics and visual representations come in.

For example, driver attention heatmaps, opacity maps, and gaze plots are easy-to-use tools for understanding driver attention. In the case of heatmaps, you can see the elements that were regarded as the longest and most often in “hotter” tones, whereas those that were ignored appear in “colder” shades.

Opacity maps are based on a similar principle, but using dark and bright regions, respectively blurry or in focus ones. Gaze plots depict the trainee’s visual sequence as he or she looked at each component within the simulator. You can also assess dwell time, i.e. how long the learner spent gazing at a particular object.

3D Eye Tracking Area Of Interest

In order to generate these representations, 3D eye tracking software delimits the elements intended for analysis as areas of interest (AOIs) and 3D objects of interest.

Auto Calibration in Driving Simulator Setup

Standard eye tracking solutions require an extensive and imprecise calibration process. It’s pretty much a hit or miss, and if you miss, your driver data will be flawed and unusable.

With a 3D alternative like GazeSense, the trainee is automatically and correctly calibrated. This allows trainers to save even more time in the preparation process, allocating more resources towards the actual training sessions.

As for the overall setup, you just need to secure a commercial depth-sensing camera in the driving simulator and connect it to a computer with the software installed. After you quickly map the 3D objects and areas of interest, you can instantly start streaming and storing visual attention information.

Accurate Driver Attention Insights

Numerous studies have proven the accuracy, precision, and quality of eye tracking technology when the setup is properly calibrated. At the end of the day, a data and evidence based approach to driver’s education will lead to insights that can reshape statistics and create safer experiences for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians alike.


👉 Build the simulators of tomorrow. Train drivers to achieve high performance under any circumstances. Use 3D eye tracking technology to gather these invaluable driver attention insights.

Send a message to our Customer Success team to discover how you can personalize and integrate our software solution to accelerate your driving simulation experience.


Featured image source: Wikipedia