Skip to main content

User Interactions in Virtual Data Explorer

  • 428 Accesses

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNAI,volume 13310)


Cybersecurity practitioners face the challenge of monitoring complex and large datasets. These could be visualized as time-varying node-link graphs, but would still have complex topologies and very high rates of change in the attributes of their links (representing network activity). It is natural, then, that the needs of the cybersecurity domain have driven many innovations in 2D visualization and related computer-assisted decision making. Here, we discuss the lessons learned while implementing user interactions for Virtual Data Explorer (VDE), a novel system for immersive visualization (both in Mixed and Virtual Reality) of complex time-varying graphs. VDE can be used with any dataset to render its topological layout and overlay that with time-varying graph; VDE was inspired by the needs of cybersecurity professionals engaged in computer network defense (CND).

Immersive data visualization using VDE enables intuitive semantic zooming, where the semantic zoom levels are determined by the spatial position of the headset, the spatial position of handheld controllers, and user interactions (UIa) with those controllers. This spatially driven semantic zooming is quite different from most other network visualizations which have been attempted with time-varying graphs of the sort needed for CND, presenting a broad design space to be evaluated for overall user experience (UX) optimization. In this paper, we discuss these design choices, as informed by CND experts, with a particular focus on network topology abstraction with graph visualization, semantic zooming on increasing levels of network detail, and semantic zooming to show increasing levels of detail with textual labels.


  • User interactions
  • Virtual reality
  • Mixed reality
  • Network visualization
  • Topology visualization
  • Data visualization
  • Cybersecurity

The material is based upon work supported by NASA under award number 80GSFC21M0002.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-05457-0_26
  • Chapter length: 15 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   69.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-031-05457-0
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   89.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 1.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 3.
Fig. 4.
Fig. 5.
Fig. 6.
Fig. 7.
Fig. 8.


  1. Batch, A., Elmqvist, N.: The interactive visualization gap in initial exploratory data analysis. IEEE Trans. Visual Comput. Graph. 24(1), 278–287 (2018).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  2. Ben-Asher, N., Gonzalez, C.: Effects of cyber security knowledge on attack detection. Comput. Hum. Behav. 48, 51–61 (2015).

  3. Casallas, J.S., Oliver, J.H., Kelly, J.W., Merienne, F., Garbaya, S.: Using relative head and hand-target features to predict intention in 3d moving-target selection. In: 2014 IEEE Virtual Reality (VR), pp. 51–56 (2014).

  4. Dübel, S., Röhlig, M., Schumann, H., Trapp, M.: 2d and 3d presentation of spatial data: a systematic review. In: 2014 IEEE VIS International Workshop on 3DVis (3DVis), pp. 11–18 (2014).

  5. Elmqvist, N., Tsigas, P.: A taxonomy of 3d occlusion management for visualization. IEEE Trans. Visual Comput. Graphics 14(5), 1095–1109 (2008).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  6. Günther, T., Franke, I.S., Groh, R.: Aughanded virtuality - the hands in the virtual environment. In: 2015 IEEE Virtual Reality (VR), pp. 327–328 (2015).

  7. Johnson, D.M.: Introduction to and review of simulator sickness research (2005)

    Google Scholar 

  8. Kabil, A., Duval, T., Cuppens, N.: Alert characterization by non-expert users in a cybersecurity virtual environment: a usability study. In: De Paolis, L.T., Bourdot, P. (eds.) AVR 2020. LNCS, vol. 12242, pp. 82–101. Springer, Cham (2020).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  9. Kabil, A., Duval, T., Cuppens, N., Comte, G.L., Halgand, Y., Ponchel, C.: Why should we use 3d collaborative virtual environments for cyber security? In: 2018 IEEE Fourth VR International Workshop on Collaborative Virtual Environments (3DCVE), pp. 1–2 (2018).

  10. Kang, H.J., Shin, J.h., Ponto, K.: A comparative analysis of 3d user interaction: How to move virtual objects in mixed reality. In: 2020 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR), pp. 275–284 (2020).

  11. Kullman, K.: Creating useful 3d data visualizations: Using mixed and virtual reality in cybersecurity (2020)., 3nd Annual MAVRIC Conference

  12. Kullman, K., Ben-Asher, N., Sample, C.: Operator impressions of 3d visualizations for cybersecurity analysts. In: 18th European Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security. Coimbra, Portugal (2019)

    Google Scholar 

  13. Kullman, K., Cowley, J., Ben-Asher, N.: Enhancing cyber defense situational awareness using 3d visualizations. In: 13th International Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security, Washington, DC (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Kullman, K.: Virtual data explorer.

  15. Kullman, K., Buchanan, L., Komlodi, A., Engel, D.: Mental model mapping method for cybersecurity. In: HCI (2020)

    Google Scholar 

  16. Kullman, K., Engel, D.: Interactive stereoscopically perceivable multidimensional data visualizations for cybersecurity. J. Defence Secur. Technol. 4(3), 37–52 (2022). 10.46713/jdst.004.03

    Google Scholar 

  17. Lu, F., Davari, S., Lisle, L., Li, Y., Bowman, D.A.: Glanceable ar: evaluating information access methods for head-worn augmented reality. In: 2020 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR), pp. 930–939 (2020).

  18. Miyazaki, R., Itoh, T.: An occlusion-reduced 3d hierarchical data visualization technique. In: 2009 13th International Conference Information Visualisation, pp. 38–43 (2009).

  19. Munzner, T.: Visualization Analysis and Design. AK Peters Visualization Series. CRC Press (2015).

  20. Pruett, C.: Lessons from the frontlines modern vr design patterns (2017)., unity North American Vision VR/AR Summit

  21. Roberts, J.C., Ritsos, P.D., Badam, S.K., Brodbeck, D., Kennedy, J., Elmqvist, N.: Visualization beyond the desktop-the next big thing. IEEE Comput. Graphics Appl. 34(6), 26–34 (2014).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  22. Shneiderman, B.: The eyes have it: a task by data type taxonomy for information visualizations. In: Proceedings 1996 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages, pp. 336–343 (1996).

  23. Whitlock, M., Smart, S., Szafir, D.A.: Graphical perception for immersive analytics. In: 2020 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR), pp. 616–625 (2020).

  24. Yu, D., Liang, H.N., Fan, K., Zhang, H., Fleming, C., Papangelis, K.: Design and evaluation of visualization techniques of off-screen and occluded targets in virtual reality environments. IEEE Trans. Visual Comput. Graphics 26(9), 2762–2774 (2020).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors thank Alexander Kott, Jennifer A. Cowley, Lee C. Trossbach, Matthew C. Ryan, Jaan Priisalu, and Olaf Manuel Maennel for their ideas and guidance. This research was partly supported by the Army Research Laboratory under Cooperative Agreement Number W911NF-17-2-0083 and in conjunction with the CCDC Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center. The material is based upon work supported by NASA under award number 80GSFC21M0002.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kaur Kullman .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this paper

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this paper

Kullman, K., Engel, D. (2022). User Interactions in Virtual Data Explorer. In: Schmorrow, D.D., Fidopiastis, C.M. (eds) Augmented Cognition. HCII 2022. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 13310. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-031-05456-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-031-05457-0

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)