Simultaneous Worlds: Supporting Fluid Exploration of Multiple Data Sets via Physical Models

Carmen Hull, Søren Knudsen, Sheelagh Carpendale, Wesley Willett

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


We take the well-established use of physical scale models in architecture and identify new opportunities for using them to interactively visualize and examine multiple streams of geospatial data. Overlaying, comparing, or integrating visualizations of complementary data sets in the same physical space is often challenging given the constraints of various data types and the limited design space of possible visual encodings. Our vision of "simultaneous worlds" uses physical models as a substrate upon which visualizations of multiple data streams can be dynamically and concurrently integrated. To explore the potential of this concept, we created three design explorations that use an illuminated campus model to integrate visualizations about building energy use, climate, and movement paths on a university campus. We use a research through design approach, documenting how our interdisciplinary collaborations with domain experts, students, and architects informed our designs. Based on our observations, we characterize the benefits of models for 1) situating visualizations, 2) composing visualizations, and 3) manipulating and authoring visualizations. Our work highlights the potential of physical models to support embodied exploration of spatial and non-spatial visualizations through fluid interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGraphics Interface 2022
Number of pages10
Publication date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Physical scale models
  • Geospatial data visualization
  • Interactive visualizations
  • Embodied exploration
  • Research through design
  • Spatial data integration
  • Visualization techniques
  • Collaborative design
  • Data overlays
  • Illuminated models


Dive into the research topics of 'Simultaneous Worlds: Supporting Fluid Exploration of Multiple Data Sets via Physical Models'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this