Information visualization using 3d interactive animation

George Robertson, Xerox PARC

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University December 10, 1993


Can visualization techniques work for non-numerical business information? Information Visualization uses 3D computer graphics and interactive animation to stimulate recognition of patterns and structure in information. It does so by exploiting the human perceptual system in ways similar to Scientific Visualization, which allows scientists to perceive patterns in large data collections. While Scientific Visualization typically works on data from simulations of physical processes, Information Visualization works on the structure of information inherent in large information spaces.

At CHI'91, we introduced a prototype system, called the Information Visualizer, and two information visualization techniques (Cone Trees for visualizing hierarchical information structures, and the Perspective Wall for visualizing linear information structures). In the last 2-1/2 years, a number of companies and research labs have begun exploring and commercializing this area.

In this talk, I will briefly describe the Information Visualizer, then characterize the salient features of the field, and finally talk about some of the other players and what they are up to.

This talk was given as a keynote address at EuroGraphics'93, in Barcelona on September 10.


George Robertson is a Principal Scientist at Xerox PARC, in the User Interface Research area, working primarily on 3D interactive animation interfaces for intelligent information access applications. Before coming to PARC in 1988, he was a Senior Scientist at Thinking Machines Corp., working on Machine Learning and data parallel programming architectures. Before that, he was a Senior Scientist at Bolt Beranek and Newman, where he was one of the principal designers of the Diamond multi-media message system. Before that, he was on the faculty of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie-Mellon University, where he was the principal designer of the ZOG hypertext system.


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