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Moment-to-Moment Detection of Internal Thought during Video Viewing from Eye Vergence Behavior

Michael Xuelin Huang, Jiajia Li, Grace Ngai, Hong Va Leong, Andreas Bulling

Proc. ACM Multimedia (MM), pp. 1–9, 2019.


Internal thought refers to the process of directing attention away from a primary visual task to internal cognitive processing. Internal thought is a pervasive mental activity and closely related to primary task performance. As such, automatic detection of internal thought has significant potential for user modelling in intelligent interfaces, particularly for e-learning applications. Despite the close link between the eyes and the human mind, only a few studies have investigated vergence behaviour during internal thought and none has studied moment-to-moment detection of internal thought from gaze. While prior studies relied on long-term data analysis and required a large number of gaze characteristics, we describe a novel method that is computationally light-weight and that only requires eye vergence information that is readily available from binocular eye trackers. We further propose a novel paradigm to obtain ground truth internal thought annotations that exploits human blur perception. We evaluate our method for three increasingly challenging detection tasks: (1) during a controlled math-solving task, (2) during natural viewing of lecture videos, and (3) during daily activities, such as coding, browsing, and reading. Results from these evaluations demonstrate the performance and robustness of vergence-based detection of internal thought and, as such, open up new directions for research on interfaces that adapt to shifts of mental attention.



@inproceedings{huang19_mm, title = {Moment-to-Moment Detection of Internal Thought during Video Viewing from Eye Vergence Behavior}, author = {Huang, Michael Xuelin and Li, Jiajia and Ngai, Grace and Leong, Hong Va and Bulling, Andreas}, booktitle = {Proc. ACM Multimedia (MM)}, year = {2019}, doi = {10.1145/3343031.3350573}, pages = {1--9} }