September 2011
Volume 11, Issue 11
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2011
iMOT: interactive Multiple Object Tracking
Author Affiliations
  • Ian M. Thornton
    Department of Psychology, Swansea University, Swansea, UK
  • Todd S. Horowitz
    Visual Attention Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital
    Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School
  • Heinrich H. Bülthoff
    Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany
    Department of Brain and Cognitive Engineering, Korea University, South Korea
Journal of Vision September 2011, Vol.11, 293. doi:
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      Ian M. Thornton, Todd S. Horowitz, Heinrich H. Bülthoff; iMOT: interactive Multiple Object Tracking. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):293.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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We introduce a novel, iPad-based experimental paradigm to study interactive multiple object tracking (MOT). In standard MOT, participants passively track a set of independently moving objects. We devised a new task in which participants interact with objects, rather than simply track them. We combined a typical MOT display with the path-guidance, touch-screen interface popularised in smart phone games such as Flight Controller and Harbor Master. We ran the experiment using a custom iPad application. A variable number of identical spheres (1.16° visual angle) moved slowly (0.89°/s) on independent linear trajectories within the full iPad display area (22.6° × 17°). Random direction changes occurred at intervals between 4 and 7 s. The participant's goal was to avoid object collisions by manually altering the sphere trajectories. This was achieved by touching the sphere and drawing a short linear or curved path away from it. This action created a visible path, which the sphere followed before resuming default random motion. In this initial study, we constrained path length, in order to prevent participants from creating complex “holding patterns”. A trial ended when the participant successfully avoided collisions for 30 s or when a collision occurred. A sphere was added to the display after a successful trial and removed after a collision, subject to a 6-sphere minimum. Twenty-four participants (ages 18 to 33, mean 23.58, sd 3.45); twelve from Korea University, twelve from Swansea University) completed 30 trials. There were no significant effects of culture, sex or previous gaming experience. The mean number of spheres participants could control was 8.39 (s.e.m. 0.14). This is consistent with estimates of passive tracking capacity at slow speeds. We hypothesize that executive control of scant attentional resources is critical for the current task. In support of this hypothesis, interactive tracking capacity actually increased with age (p = .016).


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