How Eye Tracking Can Improve Cockpit Simulators: Accelerating Results for Driver & Flight Training

As new studies show, eye tracking technology can improve training in simulators by measuring cognitive load (the amount of information you take in). It can also be used in personalized and adaptive learning, leading to a more accelerated learning process and early employee results. 

Out of all industries where this technology is taking training methods to a different level, aviation and automotive are two fields positively impacted. Eye attention and human observation in these fields are crucial and by monitoring them during flight or driving simulator programs, trainers are able to predict future behaviour and assess employees’ take-in. Furthermore, they can understand how the learning and training process can be improved, thus reducing the number of training hours and costs, as well.

It can also have a huge impact on providing a much safer environment, by reducing human errors – you will be able to identify errors that wouldn’t be so easily identifiable without a repetitive study of eye movements during training sessions.

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So how can 3D eye tracking technology influence and improve the learning process and how can this be applicable to flight crews (pilots, especially) and driver training? This is precisely what our article is aimed at answering, by initially explaining the benefits one generally gets when using 3D eye tracking in the learning process and then applying those general benefits to flying and driving training.

What Can 3D Eye Tracking Do to Support Training & Improve Student Results?

Before answering what and how 3D eye tracking can support training programs, we should be in-the-know about how the 3D eye tracking technology works

As opposed to regular eye tracking, 3D eye tracking tracks visual attention remotely from as far as 1.3m (4.3 ft) away. This means that classic gear that was used is not needed anymore, and the trainee is not burdened by any headgear during training or simulation.

  • No glasses 
  • No VR headset 
  • No calibration 

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How can you do that? Quite simple – by using a 3D depth-sensing camera in your cockpit simulator, through which you can track multiple subjects, label objects of interest (command/control area, specific gears, instrument panels etc.) in the flying/driving decks and track attention towards them in real-time. 

This is possible with the help of GazeSense, a 3D eye tracking software created to be able to map your point of analysis. This software can interpret precisely where or what the subject is looking at (just like the video below demonstrates).

3D eye tracking technology consists of a non-wearable, unintrusive device that can be integrated in real-world environments with the purpose of gathering new data which can help improve training programs

It comes as a next level technology, ready to challenge the “status-quo” of simulation programs and offer new perspectives. Now, the focus is not necessarily on the training info, but the subject/student, his swiftness, alertness, engagement and performance.

Its purpose is higher than just making sure your future or present employees follow procedures, by first gathering data about the trainee’s gazes and points of interest. Eye tracking helps you better understand learning habits, reduce the number of training hours and make the trainees improve their skills at a faster pace.

Real Time Trainee Monitoring

The first thing you can do with 3D eye tracking is monitoring gaze in real time or having a post session review. Real time visual checks and attention span monitoring become efficiency tools. Furthermore, you can consider early habit building, by making on the spot improvements for emergency event prioritization. 

United with Your Trainee during Training Sessions 

Having access to the trainee’s eye attention is key for the trainer. 

3D eye tracking makes it possible for the trainer to be able to see every eye movement, even if he is positioned behind him. This allows for the process to be better assisted and to better and faster detect what parts of the training should be repeated, what instant corrections should be made and what can be improved in terms of control panel attention.

“No Strings Attached” during Training

One of the main benefits in 3D eye tracking is that it doesn’t require any glasses or any other type of headgear. This is especially important for flying and driving training, as extra headgear could affect the trainees experience and performance. Furthermore, there is no need for calibration and it works in low light environments using a discreet & inexpensive 3D camera.

Cognitive Load Insights

Training programs have the major responsibility to support the learning process. But the learning process is entirely dependent upon the human memory system. 

The responsibility lies within understanding how you can optimize and, when necessary, minimize the load of info and procedures you put on the trainees’ shoulders or, better said, brains.

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Moreover, by tracking the eye attention during training hours, you have access to eye movement data that gives you important trainee attention span and prioritization insight. For example, in pilot and driving training simulators, it is important to know how the pilot trainee reacts to cognitive overstimulation, such as the activation of 5 major alarms at once, and how he prioritizes his attention.

A Better and Safer Working Environment

Big data analysis, gathered with 3D eye tracking, also gives important insights about what rules, procedures should be improved/changed and what are the best practices that should be further promoted.  

For example, as an airline company, you can use eye-tracking to identify where the majority of errors occur during extreme weather conditions. You can see if the subjects are looking at or doing something wrong that needs reviewing or if the cockpit instruments are not properly monitored. 

As a consequence, the flight instructor can further improve  the training strategy so as to include data about how practitioners should behave in a context like this one.

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Implementing 3D Eye Tracking in Driver and Pilot Training 

The above benefits of training conducted with the assistance of 3D eye tracking are very valuable to jobs where attention and safety are crucial. 

Thus, it can really make a difference and change the game in pilot and drivers’ training – two jobs with a high level of risk and responsibility. Not only are you responsible for an impeccable performance at work, but you are also responsible for the lives of others. These are fields where no room for any kind of error is permitted. 

And this is precisely where 3D eye tracking comes to improve human performance.

How 3D Eye Tracking Improves Driver Training

Major benefits apply when implementing 3D eye tracking for where the trainee is required to multitask while operating the vehicle: controlling the vehicle, assessment of a situation by analyzing essential visual elements and navigation.

eye-tracking-driver-license-training

eye-tracking-driver-trainingConsequently, gaze measurements  analysis – mostly related to distractions and sleepiness in the case of the drivers – will enable you to:

  • make a difference when developing better driving safety procedures;
  • improve future training debriefings with the trainees.

How 3D Eye Tracking Impacts Pilot Training

By combining eye gaze tracking with a real-world situation, like the cockpit of a plane, you can assess in real time how the trainee is taking in information about his surroundings, gather data about the human behaviour in real situations and about alertness and performance indicators, data to which you do not have access to during a standard pilot training.

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And by having real-time access to this data and further analyze it, pilot instructors gain actionable insights, which helps them to:

  • better understand contextual naturalistic pilot behaviour and situational awareness (SA) – how the trainee naturally reacts to troubleshooting technical difficulties, flying in poor weather conditions, or handling emergency events;
  • offer evidence-based personalized evaluation or correction of the pilot’s skills and competencies;
  • improve training procedures and methods – you can better present information as an instructor – be more effective and offer exactly the info that is needed.

Wrap up: Using 3D Eye Tracking in Training Settings

3D eye tracking enables, in the end, a better nonverbal communication between instructors and pilot crews/drivers/trainees. 

Without any words and only by gaze, students offer valuable feedback on how the training can be better conducted, according to their needs, what are the key areas of interest (when talking about cockpit simulations) and how can the most relevant information be presented at the most appropriate time.

To pinpoint this in a more structured way, with 3D eye tracking, the benefits are:

    • improved instructional materials, from the early stages of training. Having all the evidence from previous training sessions, you are able to improve the way you display information and you know what areas should be highlighted or insisted upon;
    • overall improved training environment, based on prior experience with 3D eye tracking trainings;
    • early human error prediction and prevention;
    • an overall much safer flying or driving experience/service, with no room for errors and accidents

It is safe to say that 3D eye tracking comes as an upgrade for the training environment, reducing training hours, costs, improving employees’ efficiency and transportation safety parameters.

👉 Get in touch and we’ll help you use 3D eye tracking to improve your simulator training programs.