The Information Visualizer: A 3D User Interface for Information Retrieval

Jock D. Mackinlay, George G. Robertson, & Stuart K. Card, User Interface Research Group, Xerox PARC

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University October 9, 1991


The information explosion requires advances in information retrieval that go beyond traditional library science and database approaches. One possibility is to use emerging technologies such as low cost memory, processors, and graphics chips to develop a user interface paradigm for information retrieval based on 3D visualization and interactive animation. Our approach is to go beyond the usual notion of an information retrieval system to develop an "Information Workspace" that encompasses the cost structure of information from secondary storage to immediate use. As an implementation of the concept, we describe an experimental system, called the Information Visualizer, and its rationale. The system is based on (1) the use of 3D/Rooms for increasing the capacity of immediate storage available to the user, (2) the Cognitive Co-processor scheduler-based user interface interaction architecture for coupling the user to information agents, and (3) the use of information visualization for interacting with information structure.


JOCK MACKINLAY has been at Xerox PARC since 1986 when he finished his PhD at Stanford University on the automatic design of 2D graphical presentations of relational information. While at PARC, he has extended the methodology developed in his dissertation, morphological design, to the analysis of the design space of input devices. He is currently working on extending morphological design to development of 3D User Interfaces.


Titles and abstracts for all years are available by year and by speaker.

For more information about HCI at Stanford see

Overview Degrees Courses Research Faculty FAQ