The possibilities offered by using biometric tools in your research are enormous – but we all know that getting started can seem difficult. That’s why we’ve put together a short tutorial, showing you how you can set everything up and get running with a biometric research study in just 120 seconds.

For this demonstration, we used eye tracking, measurements of galvanic skin response (GSR), and facial expression analysis. These three metrics work well in complementing each other, by providing a range of different analytics and information that inform us about an individual’s arousal, emotion, and attention.

Eye tracking tells you exactly what the participant is looking at and at exactly what time they do so. If you know what someone is looking at, you can trace their response back to the stimulus. Facial expression analysis can tell you how someone is feeling, as their expressions mirror their internal feelings. GSR works well when combined with this, as a measure of physiological arousal.

By combining the these three measures, we can know what someone is responding to, how they feel about it, and how strongly.

So, on to the set up. For ultimate transparency, we’ve even made a video of the process, so you can see for yourself how it works. We already began with some of the basics – the computer is already on, the software is installed – these should of course be sorted before, and then everything can fall into place.

You can either watch the video, or keep reading to get a step-by-step description of the process.

  1. First up is attaching all the sensors – the webcam and eye tracker are simply plugged in, and the GSR device is to the participant. The index and ring finger are commonly used to avoid the electrodes getting too close to each other.
  2. Now we’re going to set up a study in iMotions – this is a matter of pressing a few buttons – add a study, and press next.
  3. Now we click to add the sensors – eye tracking, GSR, and facial expression analysis (for this study, we used a Tobii X30 eye tracker, a shimmer GSR device, and the Affectiva engine for facial expression analysis).
  4. Now you just need the stimulus – just another click away. Select the type of stimulus, then upload or link to what you want to show (or create the survey if you’re doing that).
  5. Now add the respondent details.
  6. Finally, make sure the participant is sitting close enough and that the signals are being received (i.e. look at the panels at the bottom of the screen – if they’re good then you’re good – if not, move the participant closer, make sure the eye tracker can follow their eyes, and the webcam can see their face).
  7. Press record. You’re now a scientist.

That was the comprehensive version, but if you want this as a cheat-sheet, remember:

  1. Attach sensors
  2. Add study
  3. Select sensors
  4. Add stimuli
  5. Add participant information
  6. Press record

So what conclusions can we draw from this super-quick set up? Well, after our participant has watched the video clip, we can replay what they have been looking at, and determine both the strength and direction of their emotional response. This is great as an objective measure of the response of a participant to stimuli, and as you can see, it takes only seconds to set up.

When it comes to the results, we could take an aggregated view of all the data, or we could pinpoint certain moments, and identify what the participant was looking at – and how it made them feel. Of course, this can be expanded for a variety of stimuli presentation scenarios, and with multiple participants.

research participant

To get some insights into how the video was received, we could look for the peaks of GSR activity that are automatically calculated in iMotions (these denote the high points of physiological arousal), and relate them to both moments in the video by using eye tracking, and the emotional response with facial expression analysis. Conversely, we could also look for peaks relating to certain emotions / facial expressions, and find how strong the physiological arousal was, and what was being looked at.

That’s all there is to it – you can be up and running with your very own biometric study in no time (well, maybe 120 seconds). I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how to get started with biometric research – if you want to learn more about how to use these tools to understand human behavior better, then check out our free and comprehensive human behavior guide!

human behavior guide