05.06.16 - 10.06.16, Seminar 16231

Immersive Analytics

The following text appeared on our web pages prior to the seminar, and was included as part of the invitation.


We are living in the era of big data and the amount and complexity of data in many domains is growing at an increasing rate. The analysis of such complex data sets is not only the subject of research in natural and social sciences, biomedicine and economics, but is also an integral part of effective planning in business, government and many other aspects of organized society.

Several research areas work on methods to analyse such data, including information visualization, data sciences, and visual analytics. Visual analytics is “the science of analytical reasoning facilitated by interactive visual interfaces”¹. Its techniques and practice are now commonplace in many areas. It has become a key technology for dealing with big data.

The definition for visual analytics is agnostic of the actual user interface. Nevertheless, the affordances of the display and input devices used for analyzing data strongly affect the experience of the users, and so, their degree of engagement and productivity. In most application areas the platform is almost always a desktop computer: a single average-sized display, keyboard and mouse.

Visual analytic and information visualization tools have to move beyond the desktop to enable users to deal with ever increasing amounts of data. We seek to identify the most enabling aspects of emerging natural-user-interface and augmented-reality technologies for real-world visual analysis. We call this new research thrust “Immersive Analytics”.

The environments we envision will be usable by experts and analysts to help in the detailed analysis of complex data sets, but should also be accessible to decision makers and the everyday public to help them in everyday tasks. The ability to move inside faithfully represented data with new display devices and to interact with data in various intuitive, direct and embodied ways creates a richer experience that may lead to better understanding and finally deeper insight. We expect that many gaps will need to be filled to create such really productive tools.

The amount of new, low-cost display and interaction technology hitting the market is unprecedented. New low-cost display technologies include 3D and ultra-HD (4K) monitors, head mounted displays, and augmented reality devices. There is a plethora of cheap interaction technologies: large touchscreens, motion and gesture tracking devices, and soon also tactile feedback.

In this seminar, we aim to bring together experts from several research disciplines and from industry to prepare the compilation of an Immersive Analytics manifesto that includes a definition and detailed description of this new research direction, and that defines and documents the main research challenges.

During the seminar, we will investigate the potential and the challenges of immersive analytics for research and commercial applications, and we will explore how existing interaction models and techniques can be adapted to the new environments, and where new approaches are necessary. Based on this, guidelines will be formulated for the use of such interaction models and techniques in immersive analytics.

Further topics will be the design of tools and platforms for supporting immersive analytics research and applications, the evaluation of new concepts, and the design space for immersive analytics for effective collaborative data analysis in various forms. As a major outcome we expect a book publication on Immersive Analytics.


¹ Thomas, James J., and Kristin A. Cook, eds. Illuminating the path: The research and development agenda for visual analytics. IEEE Computer Society Press, 2005.