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Brunel University unveils multimedia infotainment eye tracking research findings

• Consumers do not rank quality issues as high priority for infotainment multimedia clips
• Location of a user's focus of attention does not significantly change if they are presented with high quality multimedia presentation with high frame rates for instant viewing
• Research expected to have significant implications for mobile phone operators, content providers and creative advertising industry.

Brunel University today unveils the world's first multimedia advertising eye tracking research findings. The research highlights that participants did not display a significant difference in enjoyment levels or information retention when presented with variations in quality of multimedia material. The findings suggest that multimedia content designers could make significant cost reductions by concentrating on substance over style with regard to low versus high frame rate presentations.

The research undertaken by Dr George Ghinea and his team at Brunel University unveils that a significant reduction in quality of multimedia presentation relating to frames per second in multimedia clips does not proportionally reduce the user's understanding and perception of the presentation. In fact in many instances, users were able to assimilate more information, faster and more easily. Highly dynamic scenes, although expensive in resource have a negative impact on user understanding and information assimilation.

Eye tracking research is increasingly being used as a tool for obtaining information about human perception and cognitive processes. Dr George Ghinea and his team investigated the impact of different multimedia presentation frame rates on users' quality of perception (QoP). The findings reveal that quality may hamper user enjoyment, but does not hamper information assimilation.

About the Research:
To measure the quality of service and quality of perception on users understanding, researchers presented 36 candidates, aged between 21 and 55, with 12 MPEG-coded video clips, between 31 and 45 seconds long. Multimedia clips used covered a broad spectrum of infotainment subjects, from music videos to sport, cooking and commercial advertising-based material.

Three frame rates were used: 25, 15 and 5 frames per second and two colour depths (8bit and 24bit). The clips were chosen to cover a broad spectrum of subject matter including: spatial parameters, temporal parameters and the importance of audio, video and text information in context of each clip. The direction and focus of users' gaze was tracked throughout the viewings. Following each session, participants were asked a series of questions to understand if they had retained the material and how much they enjoyed the information presented.

Industries involved in the design of multimedia content presentation such as mobile phone operators could make significant advancements in reducing energy and bandwidth costs by displaying perceptually relevant regions of multimedia clips with higher quality and irrelevant regions at lower quality.

The findings could have significant implications for mobile multimedia content providers who for many years have believed higher quality multimedia clips increase viewer's retention of information and their subjective enjoyment.

Dr George Ghinea, Senior Lecturer at Brunel University and research leader comments; “Our Research has identified high user tolerance to multimedia quality variations. This was especially the case when viewers were watching material for infotainment purposes. We also identified that high frame rates on small screen devices like mobile phones or portable TV screens, were in many cases considered overkill from a viewer's perspective. This study could have vital implications for the mobile content and design industry with operators realising the benefits of varying high quality frame rates and colour depths while broadcasting, and thus the cost benefits to their business.“