3D visualizations are generally a bad thing. They present a distorted representation of data, and they are hard to perceive correctly. Most of this stems from the fact that they are in a virtual 3D space, but are projected onto a 2D screen. But what if there was a way to make them actual tangible objects in the real world? Would they still suffer from the same issues?
This is what Yvonne Jansen, Pierre Dragicevic, and Jean-Daniel Fekete set out to discover with their research into physical visualizations (to be published at CHI 2013). Their study uses both digital and physical visualizations, identical in every regard other than existing in virtual vs. physical space.
They tested various interaction techniques on each, including combinations of the two, where the physical visualization acted as input for manipulation of the... keep reading