Mind-wandering is a symptom for a wide variety of things— ADHD, depression, intoxication, introspection, etc.— and I’d like to explore ways of measuring it as a biometric. An easy indicator for it is blinking: the more you blink, the more distracted you are. Conveniently, I’ve been meaning to play around with the “Beyond Reality Face” tracker, which includes a js library for blink detection. It was incredibly accurate, as well as an incredible workout for my browser.
I ran the demo code on a local host, had it spit out a timestamp each time I blinked, and left it on in the background while I did some reading for the “Illusion” assignment. I read aloud for the first ten minutes, hoping that elocution would ward off distraction; afterwards, I read silently for another ten minutes. Having been extremely frazzled this past week, I figured there would be a noticeable difference, despite the limited data. I copy/pasted the console data into a text editor, saved it as a csv, and threw it into some old d3 code of mine:
While I read aloud, I blinked 89 times in about 13 minutes, which is an average rate of 7 blinks per minute. While I read silently, I blinked 118 times in about 11 minutes; an average of 11 blinks per minute. A quick Google search suggests that the average is 15-20 times per minute, so perhaps I’m not as scatterbrained as I thought!