Visualizing Time-Oriented Data in Virtual Reality Environment

Prototype: Mar. 2019


This project is a further developed version of Star Wars Nebula. The goal of this project is to explore the potential of visualizing time oriented data and present data with considerable detail in a three dimensional manner. In this project, three levels of granularity, year, month, and day were implemented. Also, to optimize the exploring and observing experience, this project will be rebuilt in unity to present data in a virtual reality environment with user interface components added.

Advisor: George Legrady

Tools: Processing(Java), PeasyCam(Library for Processing)


In my previous project, two levels of temporal granularity, year and month, were used to show the check-out data on Star Wars movie series from Seattle Public Library. In contrast to that, a new level, day, were implemented to show the daily data to reveal the more detailed information. As I am always fascinated by the periodicity of time, comparisions between data that sharing a same date, or same month, in different year should be highlighted and be viewable in the visualization. To also preserve an ordered time domain, a spiral time line, which was used to map the daily data form January 1st, 2005, to Decemember 31st, 2018, and a circular coordinate system that contains concentric circles were implemented in the visualization ,inspired by the year loops of the trees. The height of the nodes are referencing the check-out data. Higher nodes represents larger check-out times.

In the coordinate system, 15 concentric circles contrbuted from center with steadily growing radius devided the 2d space, the ground, into 14 rings which will contain data on 14 years respectively. And the circlular 2d coordinate were also devided in to 12 sections clockwise to map the data from January to Decemember. Each of these sections will be further divided into smaller parts evenly depanding on how many days are there in that month. This way, the daily data will be able to located on the points representing the date of the data on the coordinate, and all the daily data will be mapped in a temporal order from Janurary, 2005 to December 2018. For instance, the ring of 2005 was divided into 12 sections, and the January section was divided into 31 parts, because there are 31 days in January.

Processing Prototype

The movie shown in the visualization are:
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (19 May 1999),
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (16 May 2002),
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (19 May 2005),
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (25 May 1977),
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (20 June 1980),
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (25 May 1983),
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (18 December 2015),
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (16 December 2016),
Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (15 December 2017),
Solo: A Star Wars Story (25 May 2018).
All the ten movies are asigned a particular color.

The lines connecting the nodes from the same date but different years are showing. There are 365 lines in total, which means for each line, or each date in this case, a unique angle was assgined. However, the February 29th in the three leap years, 2008, 2012, 2016 were skipped as they are discrete. Each line contains 14 nodes at the 14 intersactions of the main data lines mapped on the spiral. And because 10 movies are sharing the same coordinate system, for each date, 10 lines in different colors are juxtaposed to show different patterns among different movies. Also, these lines filled the gaps between every circles which highlight the overall patterns of all the data.

In the figure above, the data on 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012, and 2018 were selected.

The data on February, June, July, September, and Devember in the year 2008, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2017, and 2018 were selected.

All the nodes are able to be elevated to exaggerate the difference and the pattern.

In the top view, the gaps and break points, which means no check-out record was found that day, are easier to observe when showing individual movie. The figure above shows the data on Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones.

The original Trilogy. The brightest blue in the figure is showing the data on Star Wars IV: A New Hope.

Pink is asigned to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Because the release date of this movie is December 16th, 2016, before December 2016, no check-out record exists.

Monthly data were added to the visualization to show the overall pattern. Surfaces were drawn to hihhlight the change in data. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace is shown in the image.

Monthly mesh for Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.

Visualizing Time Oriented Data
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