Authors: Jorge Wagner, Wolfgang Stuerzlinger, Luciana Nedel
Abstract: A Space-Time Cube enables analysts to clearly observe spatio-temporal features in movement trajectory datasets in geovisualization. However, its general usability is impacted by a lack of depth cues, a reported steep learning curve, and the requirement for efficient 3D navigation. In this work, we investigate a Space-Time Cube in the Immersive Analytics domain. Based on a review of previous work and selecting an appropriate exploration metaphor, we built a prototype environment where the cube is coupled to a virtual representation of the analyst's real desk, and zooming and panning in space and time are intuitively controlled using mid-air gestures. We compared our immersive environment to a desktop-based implementation in a user study with 20 participants across 7 tasks of varying difficulty, which targeted different user interface features. To investigate how performance is affected in the presence of clutter, we explored two scenarios with different numbers of trajectories. While the quantitative performance was similar for the majority of tasks, large differences appear when we analyze the patterns of interaction and consider subjective metrics. The immersive version of the Space-Time Cube received higher usability scores, much higher user preference, and was rated to have a lower mental workload, without causing participants discomfort in 25-minute-long VR sessions.