showing 2D data in a 3D way

Research in immersive analytics presented at major conference in human-computer interaction

Nico Reski, doctoral student in computer and information science, recently presented two research papers on using immersive technologies for data exploration and analysis at NordiCHI 2020.

From October 25 to 29, 2020, the 11th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (NordiCHI), was held online, hosted by Tallinn University, Estonia. Originally established in 2000 as the main forum for human-computer interaction (HCI) research in the Nordic region, the biennial held conference has developed over the years into one of the premier HCI focused conferences, attracting an international audience. The theme of this year's conference was "Shaping experiences, shaping society". The next iteration of the conference will be hosted by Aarhus University, Denmark, in October 2022.

As part of his doctoral research, doctotal student Nico Reski presented two full papers with his co-authors Aris Alissandrakis and Andreas Kerren (Department of Computer Science and Media Technology) as well as Jukka Tyrkkö (Department of Languages). Within his research, Nico focuses on the investigation of using immersive technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) and 3D user interfaces, for the purpose of data exploration and analysis as well as meaning- and decision-making. This cross-disciplinary field of research is referred to as immersive analytics, and requires expertise from areas such as human-computer interaction, information visualization, and visual analytics.

Bridging the gap between 3D and 2D

The first paper, "Oh, that's where you are!": Towards a Hybrid Asymmetric Collaborative Immersive Analytics System, focuses on bridging the gap between immersive 3D applications and non-immersive 2D interfaces, for the purpose of collaborative data exploration. "There is a lot of potential for integrating novel 3D applications with existing 2D practices, creating an overall data analysis workflow that combines different technologies and modalities, each for their own purposes and advantages", according to Nico.

To pursue this vision, he developed an immersive analytics system that consists of a VR application, a non-immersive web application, and a real-time communication interface that connects both applications, allowing multiple users to collaboratively explore the same data at the same time. In cooperation with the Department of Languages, linguistic students participated in a user interaction study to evaluate important collaborative aspects of using the system in practice (common ground, awareness, deixis, and referencing).

Interacting with multivariate data

Within the second paper, Exploration of Time-Oriented Data in Immersive Virtual Reality Using a 3D Radar Chart Approach, the focus is set on using VR and 3D user interfaces for the interaction with multivariate data that has time-dependent meta-data attached. For this purpose, Nico implemented an interactive 3D visualization that adopts the concept of a radar chart. 3D gestural input enables a user to naturally interact using their hands with the visualization in the VR environment. Different interaction techniques were implemented, including direct manipulation, and evaluated within the scope of a user interaction study with the aim to investigate general aspects in regard to usability, user engagement, and task completion.

"It was really nice to connect with other HCI researchers, present our research, and to engage in interesting discussions with the conference attendees during the event. Going out of the event with lots of feedback as well as interesting impressions and ideas feels great, and provides important inspiration for the future work", Nico reflects on his participation at NordiCHI '20.