Evaluating Stereo and Motion Cues for Visualizing Information Nets in Three Dimensions


This article concerns the benefits of presenting abstract data in 3D. Two experiments show that motion cues combined with stereo viewing can substantially increase the size of the graph that can be preceived. The first experiment was designed to provide quantitiative measurements of how much more (or less) can be understood in 3D than in 2D. The 3D display used was configured so that the image on the monitor was coupled to the user's actual eye positons (and it was updated in real-time as the user moved) as well as bring in stereo. Thus the effect was like a local “virtual reality” display located in the vicinity of the computer monitor. The results from this study show that head-coupled stereo viewing can increase the size of an abstract graph that can be understood by a factor of three; using stereo alone provided an increase by a factor of 1.6 and head coupling along produced an increase by a factor of 2.2. The second experiment examined a variety of motion cues provided by head-coupled perspective (as in virtual reality displays), head-guided motion and automatic rotation, respectively, both with and without stereo in each case. The results show that structured 3D motion and stereo viewing both help in understanding, but that the kind of motion is not particularly important; all improve performance, and all are more significant than stereo cues. These results provide strong reasons for using advanced 3D graphics for interacting with a large variety of information structures.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

ACM Transactions on Graphics


15, Issue 2



Publisher Place

New York, NY, USA


Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article