Migration Data Visualization in 3D and VR
Whenever we work with data that has a strong spatial context, it can be helpful to provide users with a visualization that they can easily associate with corresponding geographic locations. In this particular case, we are considering a data set with detailed information about migration for over 500 (sub-)districts in the city of Vienna. In order to facilitate interpretation of this data, we can, e.g., visualize migration with histograms, color coding or stream lines on top of a city map. However, for specific tasks, such as identifying ethnic composition and migration trends, we need more sophisticated ways for exploring, filtering and highlighting relevant information.
In a previous project, we have developed a tool that employs an aggregate of qualified techniques in a desktop application. However, the complexity of the available data exhausts the abilities of a purely 2D environment. For this project, we want you to explore the possibilities for augmenting the user experience by porting and modifying the available 2D tool for application in a 3D/VR application. Moving to the third dimension and an immersive environment opens up a lot of new possibilities for innovative ideas and features. With our help, your aim is to exploit the properties of 3D and VR---such as spatial awareness and immersion---to make analysis of migration events more effective, and leave the user with a lasting impression of any conclusions he was able to draw from looking at the underlying data.
You should familiarize yourself with the available visualization tool and the techniques that went into its design. As a first step, we want you to port the tool as-is to an environment that makes it easy to modify and present the data in 3D/VR, such as the Unity engine. Once that is done, you should start experimenting with different ideas for improving usability by exploiting the 3rd dimension for conveying additional information. We have several initial ideas for improving on the current state, which you should implement and evaluate. However, an important part of this work will be your personal ability to look at the problem and suggest your own techniques, especially for exploiting VR to improve the user experience and increase memorability. Finally, you should evaluate your new, improved application in a user study to verify that your techniques really do make a difference.
This project should be implemented as a standalone application (or perhaps two, one for 3D and one for VR-capable systems) and should run on commodity hardware. For developing, we suggest using an easily accessible and versatile environment with easy VR integration, e.g., the Unity engine. For VR hardware, you will have the ability to choose from a variety of HMD devices that you may access anytime at the Institute of Visual Computing and Human-Centered Technology. Access to the migration data set will be provided by the city of Vienna for the duration of this project.