Motion Coding for Pattern Detection


A relatively underutilized method for visualizing data is to map variables directly to the oscillatory motion of glyphs. When doing this, the most straightforward parameters to consider are the frequency, phase and amplitude of sinusoidal oscillation. We report the results of an experiment that used a staircase procedure to assess human sensitivity to the frequency, phase and amplitude of motion as a method for revealing two-dimensional spatial patterns in data. For comparison, we displayed the same targets using glyph color on a red-green scale and glyph value on a grey scale. Both large and small glyphs were used. Our results show that subjects were most sensitive to spatial patterns mapped to relative motion phase. Subjects were least sensitive to the frequency of oscillation. Grey scale and color mapping were ineffective when the glyphs were small but somewhat effective with larger glyphs. Various issues concerning the use of motion for data display are discussed.

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Applied perception in graphics and visualization (APGV)




ACM International Conference Proceeding Series



Conference Date

Jul 30 - Aug 3, 2006

Publisher Place

Boston, MA, USA


Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Conference Proceeding