Thursday, November 13, 2008

French Connection

The people over at OnMap have developed a great process visualisation solution using 2.5 D representations of business processes, similar to a New Zealand product I blogged about earlier.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm worried

Came across this visualisation in a blog to which I subscribe. This visualisation of the number of satellites around the Earth is an example of the emotional impact of particular visual representations. If you told me that there are thousands of satellites surrounding the Earth, then I might shudder a little. However, show me a visualisation like this and I will get nervous.

Yes, the scale is wrong, the pictures of the satellites are too big, and the number of satellites is trivial for the volume they occupy, but somehow I can't help but be a little nervous about having such devices above my head, along with the related navigation issues that this traffic jam presents for any spacecraft flying through the satellite cloud.

BTW, the visualisation looks good in the Google Earth web plugin.


PhD Student's AIIDE Paper

Alfredo Nantes, my PhD student, has just published his first paper, which earned a second prize from Bluebox at QUT worth $2,500. The conference paper is on a computer vision based automatic testing framework for games environments.

The prize money was just enough to help him get to the AIIDE 2008 conference at Stanford University... ;-)


Monday, November 10, 2008

Air Travel Visualisation

Was sent this visualisation of World Air Travel over 24 hours today by a colleague at QUT. Each particle represents a plane in transit over the 24 hour period. I like the following about this visualisation:
  • Particles at this scale naturally clump together highlighting the major areas of air travel.
  • Integration with a world daylight representation provides a suitably visually orthogonal set of representations for easy spatial comparison of time of day and air travel intensity.
  • Air travel is seen as an aggregated daily process across the world.
  • Aesthetically it is pleasing - ugly visualisations are beyond contempt.
  • It also brings home - if air travel is postively correlated with economic activity - why the US still strongly influences the world economy.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Exit Reality

Have just got around to looking at Exit Reality, due to the fact that lots of people have asked me about it. I've missed the boat a little due to teaching commitments this semester taking up so much of my blogging time, but since it relates to my area, I thought a short review was in order.

My assessment in short, is that Exit Reality requires a lot more work to make it usable and attractive as an environment for socialising. It is trying to attempt something very difficult, the integration of web multimedia information and 3D interfaces. They should be congratulated on the attempt, but it just doesn't work for me.

Here are some reasons:
  • Exit Reality is slow and buggy. Games and virtual environments require smooth reliable interfaces to make the paradigm work properly, especially as such bugs disrupt the immersive experience. The games industry understands this, that is why they all have such large QA sections. Exit Reality needs to invest in some more bug testing.
  • The way they handle general web pages is problematic. My University home page came up as a sea of small signs that conceal each other, making it more difficult to traverse the website, thus undermining any benefit that 3D VEs can bring to web pages. I would have thought that some nice cone trees or hyperbolic views may have been better. Not sure they did much of a usability analysis before developing this general web component.
  • Apartment style metaphors for socialising, while engaging in their novelty, are not that usable. It takes a number of seconds to traverse the space in 3D, that would otherwise require a couple of mouse clicks in a 2D page.

While I applaud an Australian company for sticking its neck out on a difficult technology, I am unfortunately critical of its present ability to be more useful than the present 2D social networking forms. I think they have to go back to the drawing board to rethink the idea.