Analyze, Visualize, and Present: 5 Benefits of VR & AR for Data Analysis

Big data analysis
Veronika Petrenko
XR Enthusiast

Data Visualization in VR and AR

Imagine a big industry with thousands of employees, robots, and IoT devices, and tons of data daily that gives you crucial information on the machinery performance and operational efficiency. Fast and precise data analysis of this raw data may give you valuable insights on how to improve the working processes and your productivity

But how to do it fast and error-free?

Before the appearance of the analytics tools and progression of the Internet of Things (IoT), the data was mainly presented using spreadsheets that could be easily transformed into visual graphs and charts. In today’s era of Big Data, this task is given to data analysts or data scientists, who use models to extract useful information from large data structures. Various SaaS products may come in handy in this case too if the company doesn’t have such specialists among the workforce. 

What’s big data?

Forbes defines big data as a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis.

As stated in a McKinsey report, the huge potential of big data can make possible a decrease in product development and assembly spending costs by 50% while creating savings of $300 billion in the healthcare sector annually across the USA. But it’s only in case the data is used and interpreted correctly.

VR/AR big data visualization
VR/AR big data visualization

With more data in hand, more problems appear. The world today is overloaded with data. The Big Data revolution and IoT have presented companies with too much information too quickly. According to Cisco, only 26% of companies that used IoT for data analysis reported it as a successful experience. And only 1% of the unstructured data was actually analyzed. Doesn’t sound very promising, right? 

Data analysts use different models for data interpretation, and artificial intelligence is used for the creation of even more sophisticated models. But the main problem remains — it’s humans who can’t make any of the received data useful and accessible, especially if they don’t have a statistics background.  

But what if you can receive and interpret important trends and patterns from big data sets within minutes? What if you will be able to visualize your data, interpret it, and interact with it directly just like you do with your computer? That’s how virtual and augmented reality works. 3D big data visualization in VR and AR can fundamentally change the way we analyze, visualize, and present data. And here are our five whys:

Data visualization in VR and AR is direct

The visualization of data structures in VR and AR transforms plain and boring numbers into captivating stories and helps users better understand the data. Equipped with AR and VR, users can directly interact with the data — it can surround them in front, behind, above, or to their sides. With the help of visualization, we are turning the big data into a canva which we can explore with our eyes and hands, instead of a keyboard and mouse. 

The interaction through virtual reality is more natural — you can push buttons, move windows, and arrange data streams. Visual information is very useful when we have tons of information, and we are drowning in it, and VR-enabled applications may provide even a better user experience to interact with this data. When AR is integrated with AR glasses or contact lenses, they can reduce device intrusion and provide a hand-free interaction experience. Using accessories, AR allows users to interact with the data securely that prevents the risks of data leakage. 

Prototype of the bionic lens
Prototype of the bionic lens (Source: University of Washington)

There are fewer distractions during virtual reality data analysis

The visualization of data structures in VR and AR helps you better concentrate on the objective, as you focus your entire field of vision. It also gives you a true feel of scale because you are ‘being present’ in the data — this can be very difficult to achieve when using a desktop screen.

Visualization of data structures in VR gives more space

Without the use of VR and AR, humans had to deal with 2D representations — including graphs, charts, reports, and others. XR technologies allow you to see everything concurrently, which is impossible with traditional ways of data visualization as there is a lot more data to display if you have a 360-degree sphere of space.

Future user interface with AR and data visualization from Sci-Fi movie Avatar
Future user interface with AR and data visualization from Sci-Fi movie Avatar
(Source: http://www.avatarmovie.com)

AR & VR data analysis is multidimensional

The human natural instinct is to process information and data in multiple dimensions, which is mimicked in the visualization of data structures in VR and AR. During the analyzing and interpreting process, we mainly use our sight, but what if we can include hearing as well? This way, we’ll be able to better understand the importance, subject, and even location of a particular data through the loudness, or other sound parameters. Using different senses, we would be able to process the data with more dimensions. Of course, speaking of taste and smell is not in our agenda, but ‘feeling’ the data with the haptic feedback gloves is technically possible even today.

Haptic feedback gloves by HaptX
Haptic feedback gloves by HaptX
(Source: https://haptx.com)

VR data visualization enables greater bandwidth

It’s proven that the human brain processes information faster and much more efficiently when it’s presented in multiple dimensions because human beings are visual creatures. We process images 60 000 times faster than text, and 90% of the information wired to our brain is visual. 

Virtual reality fully immerses you into a 3D world that stimulates your brain, and allows you to fully use your optic nerve bandwidth. Just like a computer, your optic nerve transfers information with a speed of about 1MB/s, but when you read something from the screen you only use 0.1% of its full capacity. Modern visualization technologies may improve this indicator but it’s nothing compared to data visualization in VR — where a greater density of data can be displayed simultaneously, which stimulates faster cognitive processing of the information than in 2D representation. 

The future of big data visualization in VR & AR

Understanding the data is a key to today’s data-driven business ecosystem. AR and VR data analysis helps perceive the data more easily and fully. Besides, we can display complex data structures in more understandable ways that were not possible before. 

So, why choose big data visualization in VR and AR? 

  • Visualization of data structures in VR and AR can help us break down the complexity of the data.
  • It’s a new medium that gives huge potential when it comes to data visualization. It offers more natural interactions, greater space, multidimensionality, fewer destructions, and many more. 
  • AR and VR technologies can open up the doors of data analytics to a wider audience, not just data scientists.

Before the visualization of data structures in VR and AR really takes off, some obstacles must be overcome. The headset resolution should be increased for the text to be legible so that there won’t be any possibility of eye strain or nausea among its users. Another challenge is to build useful visualizations that can offer a truly intuitive way of interacting, analyzing, and presenting the data. 

The combination of big data and AR technology altogether can result in new powerful apps that are just starting to appear. With the development of modern hardware and the new understanding of this very technology, it may be a matter of time before we actually see big data visualized using virtual reality. 

Are you ready to unleash the power of Big Data visualization in VR and AR?
Learn how WeAR Studio can help you out.

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