The thesis started out with a theoretical part, that explores basics like the distinction between data, information and knowledge. On that foundation I analyzed all possible forms of visual and aural representations – these ranges from pictograms, charts, maps and infographics to auditory icons and sonification.
After the basics were set, I explored what is possible in the connection between user interactions and animations, that stress certain elements, show change in data or let objects appear and disappear.
After this research I was able to show the possible links between data, visual and aural representation, interaction and changes in the status of objects. This graphic represents the foundation for the tool, that I wanted to built.
For the second part, I designed a tool, that helps designers explore the aforementioned possibilities for displaying data and information or make it even hearable. It introduces all known data types and forms of visualization and sonification. Furthermore, it shows all kinds of interactions and animations, that help the end-user to really understand, what is shown.
To design a tool that lets the user try out all aspects of the topic, I explored different approaches to find the right solution. The tool evolved into a visualization itself.
After finding the fitting concept, I designed the complete GUI for the tool. The main elements (you could call them trees or flowers) represent every aspect of an interactive information visualization: data, visualization and sonification, interaction and animation.
The user explores all possible combinations by dragging and dropping the leafes of the trees. Interactive examples communicate background knowledge. The following video shows the usage of the prototype.
The interface has some playful details: besides the basic act of connecting the trees, the user can produce random connections by pulling a string.
In 2011, my master thesis was featured in the German Interaction Design Magazine “weave” (meanwhile merged with page) as one of the university highlight projects.