by Eric Auer: NEWTRACK eye-tracking software

Eye-tracking in DOS, the 32bit way

After having worked with the PCEXPT eye-tracking software at our department for a while, I got the chance to write a completely new eye-tracking software as a term project in 2004. When I later used this software, NEWTRACK, to collect data for my thesis, I added some further functionality to the software. NEWTRACK features user-friendly scripting and log files and makes better use of modern hardware compared to PCEXPT.

For example, you no longer have to use ISA analog/digital converter boards and monochrome graphics cards (to drive the second display, which shows information for the operator / experimenter). Instead, you can attach a small device to the printer port and use two PCI, AGP or PCI-X graphics cards (with some limitations: Read the documentation before you decide which card to use).

PCEXPT has experienced many changes over the last twenty years or so: There are versions which "overclocked" CGA or Tandy graphics cards and versions which could display non-ASCII text, for example. Some fancy tricks are possible with the scripting language, but the whole project got a bit chaotic over time (psycholinguists are no pure elegant computer scientists after all, they just want things to work ;-)).

The design of NEWTRACK tries to focus on using modern hardware, ease of use, and reasonably easy to maintain source code. So what you can expect from NEWTRACK is well-documented, nicely structured source code, an easy to understand scripting and log file language, and a limited but useful set of presentation modes and on-line analysis features. I think you will like it - especially if you have a Fourward DPI eye-tracker or some other eye-tracker with analog coordinate output. You can also use the software with only a button box, but of course it will be less fun...

The documentation: My term paper

Download my term paper to understand how NEWTRACK works and how to use it. The paper also presents some examples and describes the hardware requirements.

Note that this is not the initial version of the paper: The original term project "edition" of NEWTRACK only supported plain text display, the ability to handle PCX images and several other features got added later, when I improved NEWTRACK to use it for my diploma thesis which you can find here: Eye-tracking during concurrent scene and sentence presentation, (Eric Auer 9/2005).

The term paper has the title: NEWTRACK - reading experiments with the Fourward DPI eyetracker on modern PCs (Eric Auer, version 4/2005).

Abstract: The NEWTRACK term project is intended to provide a modern alternative to the well-known PCEXPT software by Charles Clifton for Fourward Technologies DPI eyetrackers. While supporting modern and cost-effective PC hardware, it does not support all script language and post processing features of PCEXPT. Instead, a subset of the script language of the Saarbrücken READING software for SMI / SR Research EyeLink eyetrackers has been implemented. The logles use a text format which is modelled after the text messages produced by READING, so we can re-use the READING analyzers to analyze NEWTRACK logles. Both the dependency on now hard to get old hardware and the possibility to reduce complexity by using modern standard PC features instead of specialized drivers motivated me to write a completely new eyetracking software instead of trying to improve PCEXPT. The result, NEWTRACK, can be freely reused under the terms of the GNU public license - NEWTRACK does not contain code from PCEXPT.

The NEWTRACK software

Get the big zip of everything: Contains the source code, DOS binaries and some sample files. Also contains the documentation, including the LaTeX sources of it, and the schematics of the A/D device if you want to build your own. NEWTRACK also supports some standard A/D converter device and you can of course modify the source code to support other devices as well.

Thanks to my term project and thesis supervisors for letting me publish all those files - the source code can be used under the terms of the GNU General Public License. There is no warranty that this software will do anything useful for you. It could even destroy your hardware and software and you could not blame me for it, but I can tell you that the software worked fine for me. Feel free to send questions about NEWTRACK - my address can be found in the documentation.

Apart from NEWTRACK itself, the zip contains several other tools:

Other required software

If you do not already have it, download the DOS extender / DPMI host csdpmi5b CWSDPMI binary distribution (release 5) and put the cwsdpmi exe file somewhere in your PATH or simply in the same directory as the NEWTRACK binaries. Other DPMI hosts, including Windows, should work as well.

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