Release Note Q4’22 + Q1’23: News, Updates, & Changes
- New Dashboard: Checklists tracking your progress building experiments, study insights, insightful videos, notifications and more, are all available on your dashboard
- Improved eye tracking: Changes to the neural network to increase efficiency and accuracy
- Media elements on page frames: Add media to questionnaires
- Public Experiment Library: More comprehensive searches and features
- Sample Studies Page: Valuable resource with suggested paradigms, demos, and add-ons to use as the basis for your next study
- In progress: Onboarding, improved balancing, canvas drawing element
Always working to make Labvanced the most powerful platform for your experiments. Try out some of our latest new features and capabilities:
We have launched a new dashboard, stronger than ever before, designed to help you master the Labvanced platform and stay aware of all of the latest updates. On the new dashboard, you can find:
- Checklists specifically designed to be onboarding tools
- Study insights to help you keep track of your research progress
- Videos arranged in the order that best teaches you the LV platform
- Notifications, library updates, and twitter feed all in one place
Watch this video that shows you exactly how the dashboard looks like and how it can be used.
Events have two major components, a variable and a trigger. Oftentimes, a trigger requires multiple actions to be performed. For example, if a participant clicks a button, a stimuli needs to be enlarged, change position and fade away. Now, you can group these three actions (and more depending on your experiment) into a single group! This helps for organization and copying the actions so that you can work more efficiently when creating an experiment.
Shared variables are dynamic variables which can be shared across several experimental sessions and/or participants. The variables are stored on the Labvanced server, working as an array to help you unlock a new level of experimental possibilities when creating and planning your study.
The shared variables are particularly useful for longitudinal studies, but also multi-user studies, and even help with between-subjects balancing. Here is an example of shared variables in action: Imagine your study has 10,000 images and you want to show 100 images to each participant, with the shared variable you can ‘remember’ which of the 100 images were shown and randomly assign the remaining images to other participants. Pretty cool, right?
'Read from/Write to' Action Command
This is a new action that can be added to your variables for recording (ie. 'Read from') and saving (i.e. 'Write to') data. Now you can use the following options to record and save variable values:
- Option 1, Device: This option reads variable data and saves it on the local device. This is useful for data that needs to be stored locally. For example, if you are running a longitudinal study and need to ensure participant's they are using the same device across the entire experiment.
- Option 2, Shared Variable: Reading and saving data to shared variables is a very powerful option. In this case, the data is stored on the servers and can be distributed to other trial sessions, as well as participants, depending on what you want to do.
Custom CSS in the Task Editor
The CSS properties of an element can be changed in the Object Properties tab by clicking on the element and checking the box “change CSS properties.” This adds the ability to write custom code for an object to change its appearance in more specific ways than using the object properties window alone. See an example of how the Custom CSS works in the task editor. This is the first iteration and more improvements are to come.
Home Page: New & Improved
The Home Page has received a massive make-over! It contains plenty of new information about the Labvanced platform, use cases, testimonials, and the ability to request a support call with a special dialog box that opens up, as well as a newsletter field where you can sign up to receive updates and release notes such as this one.
## Improvements There is always something that can be done to become better. Here's what we did:
Eye Tracking: Faster & More Accurate
Probably our most exciting announcement in this entire release note, our webcam-based eye tracking has received a major upgrade, allowing you to reach new heights of temporal accuracy in your research!
First, in order to reach this new level of accuracy, we first had to do some cleaning up. We completed a big refactor of the repository, so a lot of classes and files were organized in order make the neural network run more optimally. Due to this step, we reduced some functions that were unnecessary, leading to more efficient code.
Second, in order to develop a faster inference method for predicting gaze, we increase the number of images that were fed into the neural network during the sampling process. Before, we took a snapshot based on time, such as every 30 ms. But, it wasn’t clear exactly when the webcam’s Hertz frequency was refreshing. Now, we have harnessed new browser innovations that allow us to know exactly at what point a new camera image occurs (on a microsecond level) using the GPU timestamp of the refresh rate and incorporated this into our algorithm, as a result we know exactly when the refresh rate occurs based on the (now available) GPU timestamp and we know when the camera snapshot was taken on a microsecond level, temporal resolution is more precise leading to more data
Together, this allows you to have an improved and more powerful calibration process where instead of relying on a single snapshot per time point, we can acquire three! Furthermore, this allows us to better handle 60Hz webcams, leading to better data quality, and ultimately opens the door for working with eye saccades using remote eye tracking!
Media Elements on Page Frames
Due to popular demand, you can now add media elements on page frames! In the past, this capability was limited only to canvas frames where editing is more open-ended. Thanks to user-feedback, page frames (used for building questionnaires) can now also present media elements such as videos. Try it out! Go to the editor, add a page frame and upload an audio recording (or whatever element you’d like) and attach questionnaire elements (like a Likert-scale or a slider range) to go with it.
Public Experiment Library
The Public Experiment Library is a powerful and open resource available to all Labvanced users! As you might already know, the PublicExperiment Library contains hundreds of studies from the Labvanced team and other researchers in the community that wish to make their experiment available publicly. With new additions and expansions, the Public Experiment Library has been updated to be more powerful and user-friendly.
Now, the searching capabilities are more powerful, the criteria are more informative, and there are more options available. You can view, participate, import studies into your own experiment and modify it if necessary to suit your experimental goals. You can also conduct an advanced search to browse through studies to meet your criteria, such as including eye-tracking or being a multi-user study. You can even give a study a ‘like’!
Learn more about the search features and the general functions of the Public Experiment Library and check out this video explanation and demo:
Description Tab Updates
The Description Tab is a part of the editor menu that you can access to control how your study is presented and what kind of information is provided in the Public Experiment Library. New additions allow you to:
- Create custom affiliations and to search for universities to add as affiliations
- Add keywords to describe a study, such as ‘spatial cognition’ or ‘intelligence’
- Specify branch(es) of Psychology that are relevant to your study, such as ‘cognitive psychology’ or ‘social psychology’
- Create a unique Public Study Name to be displayed, now it can be different from the study name shown in your account.
Here are 3 simple tips for sharing your online study to the Public Experiment Library and how to describe your study well.
'My Account' Tab Updates
Under the ‘My Account’ tab on the editor, you are now able to see a message when your account is expiring and are presented with an option to renew the account right from that page. You can also fill in more information about your research background, such as your position and field in psychology.
Import Options: Data Frames
Importing data frames is now easier than before as we have added new options and improved the way that data is handled. Now, you can directly map files and use the first row from your spreadsheet as headers and transpose data.
If you are importing large sets of data, the data frames can map files and images in your experiment. For example, if you have your visual stimuli written out in a column, such as ‘cat.png’ and in another column you specify another variable, such as trial number or Subject ID, this can be immediately mapped out directly from the importing step.
Study Settings: New Options
When you have a study selected, the ‘Study Settings’ tab becomes visible on the side-menu of the editor. Under the ‘Study Settings’ there are now a few new capabilities you can have to ensure even more experimental control over your study, now you can:
- Block “dark mode” theme: This is particularly useful if you allow experiments to be completed on mobile devices where the ‘dark mode’ can cause incorrect CSS changes on some mobile devices.
- Enable or disable “start study in fullscreen mode”: Some researchers wanted this flexibility to have the option of not starting immediately in fullscreen mode, now it is possible.
- Require a minimum and maximum screen refresh rate: Specifying the limit of the screen refresh rate you want to permit in your study is Important for precise timing. Since screens can have different refresh rates, for example a new computer can have a 150 Hz monitor vs. an old 45 Hz monitor, you can limit who participates in your study based on this hardware parameter.
Increased Sharing Abilities for Departmental License Holders
There are now different study sharing abilities between department licenses and group licenses. Department licenses have more sharing privileges which includes giving editing ability of a study to a user who is not a member under the department license but has their own group license. By contrast, group license holders can only share a study with users who fall under their license. This change allows two groups that are using Labvanced to have a shared project.
The resources we have are always growing. Check out some of the latest additions:
New Sample Studies Page
The new Sample Studies Page is a powerful resource, a page dedicated to highlighting some of the best studies on the Labvanced platform. Essentially, these are templates organized by psychology use cases (everything from behavioral psychology to cognitive psychology to sports psychology and more) so that you can import these templates and get started with your study. The Sample Studies page is dedicated to sharing not only useful studies and tasks, but also showcasing useful demos and add-ons. All studies and content on this page have been checked and validated by the Labvanced team. For more information about how to make use of this page, read the dedicated blog post explaining its in’s and out’s: Sample Studies - Helpful Templates & Demos!
What's coming up next? Here is what we are currently working on:
We want to improve the user journey as much as possible, to help all researchers understand the power and usability of Labvanced. In this release note we announced a new dashboard, but up next we have an onboarding process in the works!
What does this include? Upon signing up and logging in to the platform, there will be a moving dialog box that shows you step by step where you need to click in order to create an experiment from start to finish! This interactive and dynamic approach will help users learn the platform faster and gain more confidence in building a study online.
We got the following request from a lot of people to improve balancing methods. Consider an experiment designed with 100 columns, where there is one column per subject and one row per trial. Soon, there will be a possibility for an optional timeout and automatic subject reassignment, as well as the ability to manually discard subjects. So, for example, if subject 17 drops out, the system will automatically assign a subject to this column as per your specified criteria.
Free Drawing Element
Soon, you will have the option to enable a Free Drawing element in your study. This will allow participants to use their mouse to draw or trace freely as a response!