Visualizing Time-Oriented Data in Virtual Reality Environment

JUN. 2019


This project is a three-dimensional temporal data visualization application that is developed for performing tasks in a VR environment driven by Unity 3D. With the help of the Oculus Rift headset and controllers, a user interface system, including interaction with virtual objects and navigation in the virtual environment, was realized to assist the visual exploration. The data used in this project are daily check-out data of 10 Star Wars movies, from 2005 to 2018, retrieved from the Seattle Public Library, and the local news headlines on corresponding dates from the Seattle Times.

Advisor: George Legrady, Tobias Hollerer, Marko Peljhan

Tools: Unity, Oculus Rift, VRTK

The abstract of this thesis was selected by the Leonardo Abstracts Service 2019.


This project aims to design and develop an immersive data observing experience in a virtual reality environment by visualizing and organizing time-oriented data. A three-dimensional spiral timeline was implemented on a circular coordinate with a radius of 30 meters in the virtual scene. The height of each node on the spiral represents the daily check-out data of the movies. Since each lap of the spiral contains a data from one year, fourteen layers of data nodes from eleven categories (ten movies from the franchise and a sum category,) constitute the intricate structure with each node connects to its neighbors.

The user could use a ray-casting pointer emitted from the right controller to activate the data contained in each data nodes.

Because the size of this structure is too large for the user to observe the overview of the visualization, a mini-map with a radius of 15 centimeters was attached to the left controller. This mini-map contains a smaller replica of the full-scaled visualization, which enables the user to observe the overview with greater ease. To fill the significant gap in size between the mini-map and the full-scale structure, a scaling interface which would be used to shrink the scene was added so that the user could recognize more details in the overview.

As for the displacement in the scene, the user will either walk within the region tracked by the Oculus sensors or pick a destination to teleport. The mini-map and the shrunken structure in the scaling interface mentioned above could also be used for teleporting, especially for the long-distance displacement.

Demo Video