Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Jean-Yves Hervé

Abstract

Scientific visualization can be viewed as a subset or a type of data visualization in which the data can be mapped to a geometric shape or spatial coordinate system. Geovisualization is a type of scientific visualization in which the data represented are earth data (e.g., bathymetry). As the need for exploring these scientific data sets increases, so will the need to support user interaction with the data. This requires creating user interfaces that allow users to carry out observational (e.g., compare and analyze different data sets) or experimental (e.g., data exploration) tasks on the data sets. This thesis aims at supporting user interaction with underwater geospatial data sets. More specifically, we are interested in investigating the usefulness and effectiveness of different navigational aids, visual aids, and visualization tools that best support user navigation. This thesis does not implement a sophisticated graphical user interface for analyzing underwater data set. Instead our focus is on supporting user navigation about the underwater data sets. We have developed, using the Unity3D game engine, our own scientific visualization tool that allowed us to create various aids and investigate their usefulness and effectiveness during user navigation. The visualization tool has the ability to spatially plot underwater geospatial data, supports user interaction/navigation, and has the ability to collect quantitative data on the users of the application. In order to evaluate the usefulness and effectiveness of the varying aids, we conducted a usability evaluation of the visualization tool. The usability evaluation consisted of running five different scenarios—each with its own unique configuration of navigation aids and visual aids—and having test participants evaluate each scenario configuration. Participants were asked to complete usability questionnaires for each scenario. Once the quantitative and qualitative data was collected we analyzed the data and observed expected and unexpected user preferences for the both the navigation aids and the visual aids.

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