Visualization by Sketching, Analogy, and Computational Creativity
NSF 1218058
September 1, 2012 - August 31, 2016 (Estimated)
PI: Professor Daniel Keefe
University of Minnesota Interactive Visualization Lab
Co-PI: Professor Arthur Erdman
University of Minnesota Medical Devices Center

Left: New visualization design tools make it possible to simply sketch new fluid flow visualizations by drawing "on top of data" using a pen and a computer tablet.

Right: Exciting 3D sketching tools for using in virtual reality environments make it possible to design 3D virtual sculpture simply by sketching "in the air".

Project Overview

The goal of this research project is to transform the way that data visualizations are designed and created to enable more effective, creative, and accessible ways of communicating scientific information using computer graphics. The project enables artists, scientists, engineers, and others to rapidly design, generate, and iteratively refine visualizations of today's most complex datasets. The approach combines novel computational tools that enhance sketching, analogical reasoning, and other creative human design tasks with underlying scientific data and 3D displays. The results include new tools, algorithms, and guidelines, which are evaluated experimentally through challenging applications to biomedical engineering, such as visualizing multidimensional imaging and modeling data to understand interactions between proposed new medical devices and human tissues. These results are significant because they lead to new understandings of how computation and human creativity can be most effectively combined in general, and specifically, how they can be combined to help scientists visualize and understand complex multidimensional data.

The broader impacts of the work lie in educational efforts integrated with the experimental research and broad applications of the new methods developed. Students from local art and design colleges are educated in scientific methods, opening up new career paths in the sciences for these visual experts. Hands-on educational research demonstrations are conducted in the local community. Through specific applications, the work yields insights that can improve and accelerate science, engineering, and healthcare. Project results, including new curriculum developed, open source software, videos, publications, and demos, will be disseminated on this website.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1218058.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.