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I'm thinking about using a headmounted GoPro to do some usability testing on a tablet combined with the Think Out Loud protocol (a poor mans version of Eyetracking). Are there any obvious hinderings that any of you are aware of that I should be concerned about? Audio, batterylife, discomfort with headmount etc etc.?

Considering the price of any Tobii headtracker unit, I can conduct several usability tests with a GoPro for the same amount of money.

UPDATE (POST GoPro test):

This is what I learned from using a GoPro in a usability test:

Positives:

  • The camera recording 1080p with 30fps works great! Clear images and decent battery-life (~2h)
  • Even though it doesn't work as eyetracking, the combined recordings of talk-out-loud audio and hand-gestures yielded plenty of problematic aspects in our system. Problems now documented in HD = proof to the programmers!
  • Since the GoPro I used had a WiFi connection, I could mount the camera on my test-subjects, and then use the GoPro app on my smartphone to adjust the cameras angle by LiveView'ing the camera on my smartphone. This meant that ALL my recording were near perfect in angle.
  • The GoPro seems really ruff and ready for this type of work. It's very robust and sturdy, and seems like a more durable piece of field-testing equipment than most eyetracking devices.

Negatives:

  • Buy a >16GB Micro SD for the camera - 1080 quickly takes up a lot of memory
  • Beware of audio! The camera in a headmounted case has poor audio. Either get a skeleton-case, an external mic, or cut a hole for the mic in the standard protective case (my solution because it's cheapest - ruins the water resistanceness).
  • Avoid background noise. The cameras software automatically turn up mic sensitivity when there is silence - so when audio re-appears there is a high chance of clipping. But no audio was lost in my tests.
  • Screen-reflections. The test I conducted was of an app on a tablet. Way too often the tablet screen reflected the blinking red button on front of the GoPro, which could spoil recordings if it is small details you are looking for.

Conclusion:

I would absolutely use the GoPro again for a exploratory usability-test. It yields tons of documented user screw-ups in HD, which can teach you tons of things about how the user uses the system in real life, plus when and how they make mistakes. A potential UX goldmine. Can't wait to test this on people out in the actual field, on site, to get even more ecologically valid data.

  • Cool idea, let's hear what your experience is with this. – virtualnobi Jun 17 '15 at 7:03
  • I thibk this mostly is an economic question. It's a fine way of doing promotional videos but i do not see your ux-related question – BlueWizard Jun 17 '15 at 9:52
  • So far I've only seen GoPro's being used in sports or every-day traffic, and in those cases the camera was mounted onto a vehicle or helmet. So the tester is likely to experience some discomfort. Audio in these cases weren't the best either, but mostly that's because it's quite windy. Try it out yourself and see what the audio is like! I wouldn't worry too much about the batterylife, except if it's extensive testing of hours on end. – Edwin Lambregts Jun 17 '15 at 10:09
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If your goal is to create an eye-tracker experience, a head-mounted GoPro won't help you with that. You will have a view of the screen (although if you use a top-of-head mount for the GoPro, you might not see the whole screen), but you won't be able to tell where the user is looking. Combining it with a Think Out Loud protocol doesn't tell you where the user is looking, either, it only tells you where the user has noticed that they're looking. The power of eye tracking is that it tells you where the user's eye is drawn, and in what order, which is not necessarily something that the user is able to articulate or even notice.

If your goal is simply to conduct a usability study, then using a GoPro camera might allow your participant to hold the device more naturally (not having to worry about holding it where the camera can view it, or have additional cables dangling off of it to enable a video feed elsewhere), but this might or might not be a better solution than other solutions for testing mobile device experiences. There are other questions here about conducting mobile research, such as screen video capturing (usability test) on mobile

In your shoes, I would consider what my research need is, what my budget is, and what tools are necessary to accomplish it. If an eye tracker is truly your need, you might simply be able to either rent the device itself or use a third-party usability testing lab that has an eye-tracker for your study.

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