Transforming Data Visualizations with Virtual Reality

VR data visualizations allow the user to step into a three-dimensional world where they can fully interact with the data.

In raw form, big data can be overwhelming and present a challenge when users are trying to uncover meaningful patterns.

For the modern business, data is king. But to be successful, data has to be properly analyzed. Organizations are constantly searching for intelligent ways to analyze data so they can better understand their customers and reach their goals faster.

In most cases when data is being visualized, traditional methods such as bar graphs or pie charts are being used, but as the amount and complexity of data continues to increase, these methods are proving, more often than not, to be obsolete.

Virtual reality technology quickly stole the show with its ability to transform the way businesses look at big data visualizations. The amount of data businesses have access to can only be understood through a series of analytical steps, and visualization plays an important role.

The human brain’s pattern recognition ability is remarkable, but most people tend to struggle with understanding anything that cannot be visualized in some way.

Virtual reality makes this possible by allowing the user to step into a three-dimensional data visualization so they can fully interact with the data.

While the concepts of big data and VR are not new, the idea of immersive data exploration through VR is.

How VR is Enhancing Data Visualization

In order to draw useful insights from data, it has to be examined on a granular level. Let’s look at some of the ways VR can do this for big data visualizations.

Big Data Interaction

Interactivity is key if users want to understand and handle data properly. With VR it is possible to dynamically analyze data because they can reach out and touch it. With this kind of interaction, it is possible to manipulate and therefore better understand the massive amounts of data that are coming in.

Immersive Data Exploration

Taking it a step further than 3D data, immersive data visualization allows users to perceive and manipulate data through VR. This is done with specific tools paired with haptic or kinesthetic interfaces, which recreate the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations or motions to the user. This makes it possible to capture body language, human touch and expression, which allows for an intuitive understanding of data and improved pattern recognition no matter how big the dataset is.

Cross-Referencing Data

With VR, large datasets can be viewed at a glance. It enables you to gather relevant data, pare it and create visual cues so it can be cross referenced instantly. The amount of data available to us will only continue to grow, and VR will help us analyze and improve our process of understanding making it more efficient.

Tapping into the Subconscious Mind

A unique feature of VR is that it can guide the subconscious mind. Through the immersive feature of VR, it is possible for it to understand the subconscious mind. For example, when the brain displays fatigue, it adapts so the user can still understand and comprehend whatever they are looking at.

Natural Interaction

While using virtual reality to look at data visualizations, users can touch things just like in the natural world. With VR users are able to manipulate data streams, push windows around, press buttons and walk around data worlds, which allows them to analyze data more accurately and therefore, make decisions faster.

Multi-Dimentional Data Analysis

It’s not just the use of hands, but hearing as well. Engaging this additional sense allows the user to understand the subject, location and significance of a particular data source in yet another way.

Examples of VR Data Visualization

Looking at data visualizations through VR makes it easier to recognize patterns within datasets. VR also features different perspectives beyond the two-dimensional images we are typically used to. Here are some examples of data visualizations in virtual reality:

Blue Whale 360 VR Experience

The Interactive Team at Fusion worked alongside a man named Simon Ducroquet to create this visualization through virtual reality that shows what it would be like to swim around a blue whale, while also breaking down its complex anatomy and behavior.

Google News Lab

Virtual reality is playing a role in the advancement of data journalism. There have been some compelling efforts at integrating VR into journalistic storytelling, but Google’s Guide to the UK Brexit referendum was a great example of things to come. The 360 degree visualization involves users looking at a map of Europe and moving their head to move around the continent to discover the top Brexit related question being asked in each country.

Titans of Space – Oculus Rift DK2

Titans of Space 2.0 takes users through a tour of our solar system to gain perspective on what the universe looks like by taking advantage of the increased special awareness made possible by virtual reality technology.


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