Data Physicalization

Research on Data Physicalization

What if data moved off the screen, with 3D physical shape and materiality? Ongoing research investigates Data Physicalization - physical artefacts whose geometry or material properties encode data. Building on past experience from Trevor Hogan's 'Tactile Data' PhD we have pursued this further, so far in 2 student projects, as Hannes Waldschütz' research focus and with the DFG Project FluidData on the UX of DataPhys.  

- WS 2017/19 Data Driven Objects: Trommelwirbel + Bellum Omni contra omnes (war of all against all) 

- WS 2018/19 Data Matters: The Sixth Wave

- WS 20/21 Data Perspectives. Physical Representations of Everyday Data 

DFG Project FluidData - The User Experience of Novel Pneumatic Shape-Changing Interfaces for Dynamic Data Physicalization

March 2020 our new DFG Project FluidData started. This investigates the potential of dynamic shape-changing interfaces for data representation. The project has a constructive-technical and an empirical strand. Project staff: Hannes Waldschütz and Rosa van Koningsbruggen.

On a constructive-engineering level, we will realize controlled shape change via pneumatically actuated (fluidic) membrane structures from  textile/elastomeric material (inflatables) and explore the novel options this offers for shape-change and interaction. For this, we build on and collaborate with Kristian Gohlke's ongoing PhD work. The empirical focus of this project is on the user experience of data physicalization (especially with shape-change). While other research teams have begun investigating performance and accuracy in Data Physicalization, we believe that beyond  pragmatic and utilitarian factors (i.e. usability), there are qualities and benefits related to user affect, sensation and meaning, i.e. UX. For some usage situations, this might be more important for increasing engagement and empathy with data. We will thus investigate terms of qualities and interpretations ascribed to a representation, as well as sense-making processes evoked, including the potential to raise empathy.


Kristian Gohlke, Wolfgang Sattler and Eva Hornecker. AirPinch – An Inflatable Touch Fader with Pneumatic Tactile Feedback. accepted Work in Progress for ACM TEI 2022 (collaboration with RethiCare project)

Rosa van Koningsbruggen, Hannes Waldschütz and Eva Hornecker. What is Data? - Exploring the Meaning of Data in Data Physicalisation Teaching. accepted full paper for ACM TEI 2022. 

Rosa van Koningsbruggen and Eva Hornecker. “It’s Just a Graph” – The Effect of Post-Hoc Rationalisation on InfoVis Evaluation. Proc. of ACM Creativity & Cognition2021 (C&C'21) (HONORABLE MENTION AWARD)

Irene López García and Eva Hornecker. Scaling Data Physicalization – How Does Size Influence Experience? Accepted full paper for the 2021 ACM on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction Conference (TEI’ 21) ACM, New York, NY, USA,

Hannes Waldschütz, Eva Hornecker. The Importance of Data Curation for Data Physicalization.Companion Publication of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS’ 20 Companion), 293–297. Provocations track.  DOI: 

Hannes Waldschütz, Eva Hornecker, Leoni Fischer, Pauline Temme, Anas Alnayef, Sujay Shalawadi, He Ren. Drum Roll: A Data Physicalization of Real-Time Radiation Sensor Readings. In Companion Publication of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS’ 20 Companion), 477–479. Performance and Design track. DOI: 

Yun Wang, Adrien Segal, Roberta Klatsky, Daniel F. Keefe, Petra Isenberg, Jörn Hurtienne, Eva Hornecker, Tim Dwyer and Stephen Barrass. An Emotional Response to the Value of Visualization.  IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications Magazine, Visualization Viewpoints, Volume: 39, Issue:5,  Sept/Oct. 2019. pp. 8-17.  DOI: 10.1109/MCG.2019.2923483