Improving Spatial Awareness for Human Trajectory Visualization in Space-Time Cubes

  • Tiago GonçalvesEmail author
  • Ana Paula Afonso
  • Bruno Martins
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9299)


With the increasing evolution of computer graphics, 3D visualizations have become more common and are nowadays seen as a promising way to represent complex types of information. In particular, space-time cubes (STC) have been proposed as an alternative to 2D maps for the visualization of spatio-temporal data, and they have become increasingly used to explore the dynamics and patterns of human movement. However, previous research has pointed out perceptual limitations that can condition the use of 3D views for decoding locations and spatial properties. We aim to address those issues by presenting a comparative study between three variants of the STC technique, with different methods to improve spatial awareness. Our results support that the use of a movable plane or an additional 2D map view improve users’ accuracy when performing common tasks, and are preferred over simpler, yet less cluttered approaches. Additionally, it also supports the possible advantages of combining 2D and 3D views for human trajectory visualization.


Spatio-temporal data Trajectories Information visualization Visual analytics Space-time cube Usability 



This work was supported by national funds through by FCT (Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation) with the following references: SFRH/BD/78837/2011, UID/CEC/00408/2013 and UID/CEC/50021/2013, and through the KD-LBSN project, with reference EXPL/EEIESS/0427/2013.


  1. 1.
    Amini, F., Rufiange, S., Hossain, Z., Ventura, Q., Irani, P., McGuffin, M.: Theimpact of interactivity on comprehending 2d and 3d visualizations of movementdata. IEEE Trans. Vis. Comput. Graph. 21(1), 122–135 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Andrienko, G., Andrienko, N., Demsar, U., Dransch, D., Dykes, J., Fabrikant, S.I., Jern, M., Kraak, M.J., Schumann, H., Tominski, C.: Space, time and visualanalytics. Int. J. Geogr. Inf. Sci. 24(10), 1577–1600 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Andrienko, N., Andrienko, G., Bak, P., Keim, D., Stefan, W.: Visual Analytics ofMovement, 1st edn. Springer, Heidelberg (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Andrienko, N., Andrienko, G., Gatalsky, P.: Exploratory spatio-temporal visualization: an analytical review. J. Vis. Lang. Comput. 14(6), 503–541 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Baudisch, P., Good, N., Bellotti, V., Schraedley, P.: Keeping things in context: a comparative evaluation of focus plus context screens, overviews, and zooming. In: Proceedings of CHI 2002, pp. 259–266 (2002)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bertin, J.: Semiology of Graphics: Diagrams, Networks, Maps. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison (1967)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gonçalves, T., Afonso, A.P., Martins, B.: Visualizing human trajectories: comparing space-time cubes and static maps. In: Proceedings of HCI 2014, pp. 207–212 (2014)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hägerstrand, T.: What about people in regional science? Pap. Reg. Sci. Assoc. 24(1), 6–21 (1970)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    John, M.S., Cowen, M.B., Smallman, H.S., Oonk, H.M.: The use of 2D and 3D displays for shape-understanding versus relative-position tasks. Hum. Factors: J. Hum. Factors Ergon. Soci. 43(1), 79–98 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kjellin, A., Pettersson, L.W., Seipel, S., Lind, M.: Evaluating 2D and 3D visualizations of spatiotemporal information. ACM Trans. Appl. Percept. 7(3), 19:1–19:23 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kraak, M.J.: The space-time cube revisited from a geovisualization perspective. In: Proceedings of ICC 2003, pp. 1988–1995 (2003)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kraak, M.J.: Geovisualization and time new opportunities for the space-time cube. In: Dodge, M., McDerby, M., Turner, M. (eds.) Geographic Visualization Concepts, Tools and Applications, chap. 15, pp. 294–306. Wiley (2008)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Peuquet, D.J.: It’s about time: A conceptual framework for the representation of temporal dynamics in geographic information systems. Assoc. Am. Geogr. 84(3), 441–461 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Roth, R.E.: Cartographic interaction: what we know and what we need to know. J. Spat. Inf. Sci. 6, 59–115 (2013)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Thakur, S., Hanson, A.: A 3D visualization of multiple time series on maps. In: Proceedings of IV 2010, pp. 336–343 (2010)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tiago Gonçalves
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ana Paula Afonso
    • 1
  • Bruno Martins
    • 2
  1. 1.LaSIGE, Faculdade de CiênciasUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.INESC-ID, Instituto Superior TécnicoUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal

Personalised recommendations