virtualitics - product design
For three years, I’ve worked at Virtualitics’ as the resident designer/developer. While my work has meant doing a lot of front end UI integration in Unity, it’s also given me avenues for exploring new kinds of data visualization and methods of interaction in Virtual Reality - often directly translating into additions to the application based on my designs.
Selection MethodsA concern with working in 3D software is that selection becomes far more complicated that working in simple two dimensions, due to the addition of depth complicating things. On top of that, I was tasked with coming up with various selection methods that would not only be useable in desktop, but also in Virtual Reality, since the app is useable on both platforms.
First, the most simplistic method is using a “slice” tool to rapidly cut a selection down to essentials with little labor. Doing so would involve simple manipulation of a 3D plane to make a selection, then rotation of the plane for fine-tuning, and finally picking a side to keep data on.
Second, the most intuitive option was a simple paint-select method for selecting data in VR and desktop. To further illustrate the point, I created and programmed a 3D mockup scene where a user could interact with data by using a variably-sized, transparent green ball that could be grown and shrunk for precision.
Last, somewhere between the slice tool and the paint tool is a lasso, meant for drawing enclosed geometry with which to capture data for selection or elimination.
Drawing ToolsWorking in VR and sharing datasets becomes difficult largely because of the lack of notation - creating drawing tools can remedy that by allowing a user to save notes within a file, drawing around plots and data for later perusal. Here I programmed and mocked up using the tool in VR as an illustration for what it would look like.
Along with that, I mocked up what UI would look like based on our UI style, what the models would look like when the tool is being used, and condensed it all into a single slide for pitching to the team quickly and easily how the tool is to be implemented.
New Data Dimensions - Pulsation & VectorsAs the product was expanding, I was challenged by the CTO to develop new data dimensions for visualizing data - we already had color, size, shape, and many other options. Over the course of several weeks, I programmed and designed a sandboxed and less complicated version of the application to test different ways of visualizing data in three dimensions.
In these datasets, I explored the use of pulsation (rapidly growing and shrinking in size) to show a spectrum of values, alongside Vectors, which is particularly useful for datasets that use things like aerodynamics. Here, you can easily see the visual differences between pulsation speeds and the rotation of the points based on their vectors (the arrows sticking out of the 3D models).
These were liked enough that they were rapidly implemented into the app, where they can be used today as part of the final application.