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iMOT: interactive Multiple Object Tracking


Thornton,  IM
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

Bülthoff,  HH
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Thornton, I., Horowitz, T., & Bülthoff, H. (2011). iMOT: interactive Multiple Object Tracking. Poster presented at 11th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2011), Naples, FL, USA.

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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).