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IBM Immersive Insights [DRAFT]

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Photo Credit : Immersive Insights Team

Project Overview

“We are biologically optimized to see the world and the patterns in it in 3 dimensions. The more dimensions we can visualize effectively, the higher are our chances of recognizing potentially interesting patterns, correlations, or outliers” George Donalek.
IBM Immersive Insights was inspired by the way we think. AR, VR, and 3D visualization have caught the eye of global executives as the next major revolution in technology. While the demo is still in an early stage, it is our way to begin exploring, creating and refining the next generation of enterprise applications for data analysis.
IBM Immersive Insights helps users explore their data and communicate findings. It brings the power of Augmented Reality (AR) visualizations to data science tools, improving the user experience, data exploration, and data analysis process. The project is initially designed with data scientists as the users, however Immersive Insights has all kinds of potential in data analysis and presentation, and can benefit business leaders and executives, analysts, and many other types of users.
Immersive Insights enables users to analyze data and generate insights with the power of 3D visualization. The Augmented Reality (AR) technology that we use helps the user view, control, and understand their data like never before.
With Immersive Insights, we aim to enhance workflows, create a shared collaborative space, and overall enhance the power of data science.




Alfredo Ruiz, Ben Resnick, James Griffin, Rose Peng, Rosstin Murphy

Project Brief

Immersive Insights aims to enhance data science workflow, integrating with the tools scientists already use. Data scientists often face the problem of information scattered across countless spreadsheets and complex graphics, and without a way to accumulate all the information and reveal the big picture trends and story from the data.
The AR technology of Immersive Insights allows users to gather all their data in one place and visualize it in a 3D capacity. They can move and shift data points around, giving them a new and clearer way to understand relationships between data points. The tool features the ability to select and label specific points, preview data values, and alter the visuals in real time using IBM’s Data Science Exploration (DSX) tool. The user can scale the visuals, allowing for total visual immersion in the data. Multiple users can use the tool at once, allowing a new level of collaboration and data exploration across teams. With the AR technology, physical boundaries become unlimited, creating endless space for collaboration.

With the power of AR adding depth and motion cues, users can consider new relationships in their data. Uncovering patterns that may have taken hours can now take minutes or seconds with this new view of data.
Immersive Insights offers an overall novel application of AR and 3D visualization, opening new possibilities in the data science field and the overall science and technology sector.  

Project Innovation

According to IBM Research, every day we generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. Data processing rates are growing continuously, so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. With this growing amount of information, traditional analytical methods may not always be able to suffice.
The stages of data science process include identifying a problem, get data, clean data, explore data, transform data, model data and finally communicate results. Data exploration is one of the most time-consuming stages. Scientists need to analyze and try many different relationships in data to get the insights they need, an often time consuming task. 

We are targeting two aspects of the data science process. Immersive Insights helps users explore their data and communicate findings. By visualizing data in 3D and viewing data from new angles and perspectives, we help data scientists identify key patterns, relationships, and outliers in seconds, where it would normally take hours of work.

Beyond data science, Immersive Insights has the potential and capacity to be used a presentation tool, where non-data experts can take advantage of the 3D visuals to better communicate any information.

Design Challenge

We faced a unique design challenge as we explored the new field of 3D user experience design while learning and developing its application to data science. Augmented Reality is a relatively new technology, and there were very few design resources for us to rely on when beginning the project.

We had to create our own design guidelines, working mostly through trial and error to establish a new set of best practices for this type of interface. The problems we examined were finding ideal dimensions and measurements for the interface, understanding how to respect the user’s personal space within the AR, what is the right distance and space for interaction between the user and visuals, and creating an overall holistic sensory experience for the user.

We made, tested and implemented these core user comfort guidelines without any precedent. We faced these design challenges in conjunction with considering how complex data science is and how our design could help with users’ workflow.

User Experience

User testing is integral to our design process, we have many stages of design and user testing. To create the best possible interface design, we worked in low and mid-3D fidelity interactions, 3D photorealistic rendering, and conducted user testing with the AR headset.
Understanding how data scientists work was a challenging task. Our extensive user research process included interview sessions with data scientists about their work flows and needs, followed by extensive user testing with each prototype.
We found that our users value direct collaboration and constant communication in our product. We built our server to allow multiple users worldwide to view the same information at the same time, allowing for efficient and constant collaboration. Users can explore the data and share insights in real time, all in the same virtual space as each other.

Working directly with our users paid off and shows in our current product. The full ability to scale and manipulate data as well as ability for users to collaborate speaks directly to the needs of data scientists in today’s data driven world.

Conceptual Design celebrates the projects that are yet to be realised. They are may be creative ideas, imagined future states or thought pieces intended to start a conversation. This category rewards the blue sky thinking that is needed to drive design forward.

The experience design category celebrates designed journeys, services, events and processes where the focus is placed on the experiences of the user. Consideration is given according to the design context and need, design innovation and the application of human centred design principles.

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