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 NEW!  DirectRT v2014
directrtDirectRT v2014 for all versions of Windows is now available! This page provides an overview. View the online user's guide. To upgrade, check out licensing options, or view pricing, please visit our order page.

DirectRT Overview

Do you have tasks in which you measure RTs that average less than 1000ms? Do you have tasks in which stimulus onset and presentation times are seriously expressed in milliseconds and not seconds? Are you comfortable with the "blocks of trials" concept?  If so, then you've come to the right place--DirectRT can dramatically simplify your life. 

Powerful and easy to use
With DirectRT you can quickly and easily create reaction time tasks that require precision timing. You will be able to easily obtain accurate high speed response input from keyboards, mice, joysticks, microphones and external hardware. Present sound, video, images and text with exacting precision. You will be amazed at how DirectRT can make this so easy.

Windows can accomodate precision
Windows has traditionally been a very chaotic environment for precisely controlling the timing of events. The development of Microsoft’s DirectX has changed all this for psychological research. DirectX based programs can now manipulate images and sound and monitor input activity at the millisecond level. All this with incredible reliability. Dust off your old oscilloscope and see for yourself! DirectRT is 100% DirectX. 

You’ll never go back
DirectRT comes with extensive on-line help files, an easy-to-follow 100-page manual and an on-line tutorial with over 40 samples that illustrate simple and advanced techniques. Using Microsoft Excel as its editor, you can create, copy, paste and modify trials in no time. Although we now offer millisecond accurate keyboards and button boxes, DirectRT also works great with most third party external hardware. Even with a standard USB keyboard, serial mouse, joystick, or sound card microphone, error is remarkably low. Bottom line is that DirectRT will help minimize timing error associated with most hardware.

General Features and Response Times

  • Timing resolution of 1 millisecond.
  • Response timing is synchronized with the screen display so timing always begins when the screen first begins to draw (eliminates 10-17 milliseconds of random error).
  • Works with Windows to pause all other system events while timing is taking place. With everything else put on hold, the highest processing priority possible is given to DirectRT during the critical time intervals on each trial.
  • Uses Microsoft’s DirectX to gain the fastest access possible to input events from the keyboard, mouse, joystick and soundcard.
  • Optionally define minimum and maximum response times and deliver custom message screens for each when violated.
  • Collect multiple response times on a single trial.
  • Collect key release response times in addition to key press times.
  • Define valid keys for any response.
  • Define 'correct' key for any response.
  • Optionally require a correct response (see the IAT sample).

Input Options

  • Keyboard, mouse, and joystick input for single keypress or button responses.
  • Short open ended (fill-in-the-blank) responses.
  • Voice responses via microphone connected to your soundcard (ask us about a test you can do to see if your sound card can handle it).
  • Option of saving voice responses as wav files on your hard drive.
  • Continuous joystick motion.
  • TTL signals can be read from a defined port to gather data from external equipment.

Stimulus Presentation

  • Create as many different displays as you need for any given trial.
  • Play sound files.
  • Can handle multiple simultaneous and/or sequential sound files, with control over left/right panning and frequency (Hz). Easily synchronized with visual stimuli.
  • Send precisely synchronized TTL signals to communicate with external equipment (e.g., another computer controlling physiological equipment).
  • Present subject's own responses to open ended questions as stimuli in the same session.
  • Easily create full screens of instructions with formatted text.
  • Create multiple style settings with choices of fonts and display colors.
  • Present full colour graphics that can be as large as full screen and in any resolution from 640x480 to 1024x768.
  • Present multiple images and/or text in succession or simultaneously.
  • Superimpose custom graphics you make (e.g., special rating scales) over any other image or text. Great for pretesting and rating visual stimuli.
  • Capture screens from Microsoft PowerPoint and other presentation software and present them as stimulus or instruction screens in your experiment.
  • Precisely locate images and text with flexible and easy to use alignment options.
  • Display of stimulus screens is synchronized with the monitor’s refresh rate resulting in highly controlled presentation rates.
  • Enter stimulus presentation times in milliseconds. DirectRT will determine the screen refresh rate and will present the stimulus for the number of screen refreshes that will comes closest to your specified interval. All actual display times are written to a log file for each session.

Randomization and Trial Structure

  • Randomize trials within a single block.
  • Randomize the order that blocks of trials are presented.
  • Randomly select which items from a set are presented.
  • Extremely flexible trial design which can change from one trial to the next.
  • Define stimuli directly in the input file or refer to stimulus lists.
  • Access stimuli from lists sequentially, randomly, or randomly without replacement.
  • Create scale responses and multiple choice questions in any format.
  • Skip pattern capability when a particular key is pressed on any trial.
  • Jump capability -Depending on which key is pressed you can have DirectRT jump to different events (e.g., such as a feedback sequence) and then resume where it left off.
  • Option of self-paced or time-limited responses.
  • Repeat trials for which stimuli were randomly selected at run-time.

Display

  • Create scale responses and multiple choice questions in any format.
  • Easily create full screens of instructions with formatted text.
  • Present full colour graphics that can be as large as full screen in any resolution from 640x480 to 1600x1200 and beyond.
  • Present multiple images and/or text in succession or simultaneously.
  • Superimpose custom graphics you make (e.g., special rating scales) over any other image or text. Great for pretesting and rating visual stimuli.
  • Capture screens from Microsoft PowerPoint and other presentation software and present them as stimulus or instruction screens in your experiment.
  • Precisely locate images and text with flexible and easy to use alignment options.
  • Create multiple style settings with choices of fonts and display colors .

Data

  • Writes data to an easy-to-analyze ASCII file.
  • Add optional variables to the data file that identify within subject trial conditions-makes for much easier analysis.
  • Writes all data into a single file that can be imported straight into Excel or SPSS.
  • Includes a utility to easily merge data files collected on different computers.
  • Produces two data files per run-one that is simplified and easy to use for most purposes and a more detailed ‘log’ version that records everything including actual stimulus presentation times so you can ensure that your system is capable of achieving the timing you need.

Other Features

  • Easily modify and re-use your input files experiments.
  • You don’t have to learn a new editor! Do everything from your favourite spreadsheet application (e.g., Excel, Lotus, Quattro). If you know how to use one of these, then you already know how to edit DirectRT input files.
  • Also works great in combination with DirectRT (versions 2000 and later). Just drop a DirectRT session into any DirectRT questionnaire. DirectRT will ask DirectRT to execute the session and will pass along the current subject and condition IDs. When DirectRT is finished, DirectRT will resume where it left off. This is a great way to assign multiple DirectRT input files as a function of between subject factors.
  • Runs easily from a command line prompt so you can call the session and execute it seamlessly from your within own programs. You would never know you left your own program.
  • Context sensitive help such that pressing F1 at any time will help you with what you are currently doing.
  • Easy-to-use intuitive interface--no programming code necessary.
  • Resolution independent: compatible with screen displays from 640x480 to 1024x768.

System Requirements

It is strongly recommended that systems running DirectRT have at least 256mb of memory, a graphics card with at least 16mb of video memory and a processor speed of at least 500mhz. The log files that DirectRT produces will show you whether or not any computer in question can handle your experimental design.

Finally, it is also necessary to have a spreadsheet application installed (e.g., Excel) if you plan to edit or view the DirectRT input and output files on that machine-or if you plan to try the DirectRT on-line tutorials. All input and output files are created and saved in .CSV format which is editable from any standard spreadsheet application.

More detail: Setup and system requirements from user's guide


DirectRT and/or MediaLab?




New customers often wonder whether they need both DirectRT and MediaLab, or if one of them is sufficient. We answer this in the knowledgebase:

Do I need both DirectRT and MediaLab?
See also: DirectRT FAQ and Support


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Last modified: Tuesday, February 21st, 2014.