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Navigating spatio-temporal data with temporal zoom and pan in a multi-touch environment

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Geographic phenomena often have an intrinsic temporal component that can be an important part of answering many research questions. Geospatial applications are well developed in their ability to navigate the spatial dimension of data through zoom and pan tools, but are less developed in their temporal navigation abilities. Improved temporal navigation tools are important for achieving a simplified and more thorough analysis of spatio-temporal data. This paper presents new approaches for navigating the temporal dimension of spatio-temporal data in a multi-touch environment using temporal zoom and pan. Two approaches, Dynamic Radial Navigation and Multiple Linked Time Sliders, were implemented and tested with a user evaluation that compared them to two approaches based on more commonly available temporal navigation tools, Drop-Down List and Date/Time Spinners. Results from the user evaluation indicated that although all of the approaches were effective, there were variations in efficiency and perceptions of ease of use and usefulness. The results of the study favoured the Date/Time Spinners, even though these consumed the largest amount of display space. The participants did acknowledge the value of the visualization and interaction elements in the new approaches, but reported difficulty in using them due to their compact size. These findings illustrate the delicate balance between size, utility, and novelty, which must be carefully managed in the development of multi-touch data analysis tools.
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Keywords: multi-touch interaction; spatio-temporal data; temporal pan; temporal zoom

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, Canada 2: Department of Computer Science, University of Regina, Regina, SK, Canada

Publication date: May 4, 2014

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