Project

Influence of cartographic visualization methods on the success of solving practical and educational spatial tasks (Carto4edu)

Goal: A lot of information that we use in everyday life is represented in the form of two-dimensional models of three-dimensional reality. Those models are useful which help us to understand the real world phenomena and create such a mental representation, i.e. “the image in our mind", which is close to reality and contains reasonable degree of details which can be processed easily by the recipient. In the applied areas, important models representing the spatial information are maps, either in its traditional paper form or on a display of specific electronic device, and also as a virtual environment. The development of these models and the evaluation of their applicability is the research subject for experts from various disciplines using different methods as well as different theoretical concepts and background.
The project is based on interdisciplinary communication and collaboration of cartographers, psychologists, pedagogues and IT experts. The project allows us to find answers to questions about how the different characteristics of models and different user interfaces influence the effectiveness of “communicating information” — e.g. the degree of understanding, the effectiveness of learning and follow-up decisions when solving experimental tasks. The proposed research design is focused on the research of basal cognitive processes and it also tends to conduct behavioral research on more complex levels in the perspective of pedagogical sciences. On the one hand, there will be compared alternative techniques of cartographic visualization in different user interfaces (UI) and on the other hand there will be examined the behavior of individuals and the effectiveness of learning in cooperative learning virtual environments (CLVEs). Research is hierarchically structured:
a) comparison of variants of cartographic visualization methods
b) comparison of UI variants
c) comparison of UI in the context of cooperative learning
The secondary objective of the project is to develop a mixed-methods research design that combines the advantages of both qualitative and quantitative methods. Thanks to cutting-edge instrumentation (e.g. large-format 3D projection, Motion Capture System, eye-tracking systems compatible with three-dimensional projection and integrated into virtual reality systems) and original software platforms VRECKO and Hypothesis, which are provided by laboratories Hume Lab at Faculty of Arts at Masaryk University (MUNI) and HCI Lab at Faculty of Informatics MUNI, and with the use of experimental or quasiexperimental methods, within this interdisciplinary collaboration can be the defined research questions effectively tackled.

Date: 1 March 2016 - 31 December 2018

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Project log

Lukáš Herman
added a research item
The main aim of this dissertation was to discover the differences between user aspects of interactive 3D maps and static 3D maps and to examine the way in which users with different levels of experience work with interactive 3D maps. First, a literature review was conducted. Based on this review, the requirements for application enabling user testing of interactive 3D maps were defined. The testing application was then implemented using an iterative approach (according to a spiral model). The developed application 3DmoveR (3D Movement and Interaction Recorder) is based on a combination of the user logging method, a digital questionnaire and practical spatial tasks. From this application, the 3DtouchR (3D Touch Interaction Recorder) and 3DgazeR (3D Gaze Recorded) variants were derived. Nine partial experiments were carried out. Four of these experiments were exploratory and verified the functionality of the applications and demonstrated the ability to analyse and visualise the recorded data. Two experiments compared static and interactive 3D maps, while one compared real-3D and pseudo-3D visualisations. In two experiments the performances of different user groups (experts on geography versus laypersons, digital natives versus digital immigrants) were compared when working with interactive 3D maps. Experiences with the design and realisation of user testing of interactive 3D visualisations, which were gained during these experiences, were summarised, and a list of recommendations for interactive 3D visualisation user testing and analysis of these data was formulated. A decision tree for selecting appropriate methods of user interaction and virtual movement analysis was created. The main findings regarding 3D maps are as follows: • Interactive 3D maps are suitable when a correct decision is needed and there is no time pressure with regard to the decision-making speed. • Interactive 3D maps are suitable for more complex tasks. • Interactive 3D maps are more suitable for experts on geospatial data. • Real-3D visualisation increases the accuracy of user responses when working with static 3D maps, but this difference is less significant when working with interactive 3D maps. In general, the benefits of interactive 3D maps are influenced by the purpose of the map, the map use conditions, the type and complexity of the map tasks and the map users. These outcomes are relevant, for example, when deploying interactive 3D maps in the fields of crisis management or geography education. There is also a clear recommendation for future user studies: If the experimental results should be generalised to interactive 3D maps and virtual reality, interactive 3D maps should be used as stimuli in this user studies.
Dajana Snopková
added a research item
This work addresses the impact of a geovisualization's level of realism on a user's experience in indoor navigation. The key part of the work is a user study in which participants navigated along a designated evacuation route previously learnt in a virtual tour or traditional 2D floor plan. The efficiency and effectiveness of completing the task was measured by the number of incorrect turns during navigation and completion time. The complexity of mental spatial representations that participants developed before and after navigating the route was also evaluated. The data was obtained using several qualitative and quantitative research methods (mobile eye tracking, structured interviews, sketching of cognitive maps, creation of navigation instructions, and additional questions to evaluate spatial orientation abilities). A total of 36 subjects (17 in the "floor plan" group and 19 in the "virtual tour" group) participated in the study. The results showed that the participants from both groups were able to finish the designated navigation route, but more detailed mental spatial representations were developed by the "virtual tour" group than the "floor plan" group. The participants in the virtual tour group created richer navigation instructions both before and after evacuation, mentioned more landmarks and could recall their characteristics. Visual landmark characteristics available in the virtual tour also seemed to support the correct decision-making.
Lukáš Herman
added a research item
Terrain analysis and related spatial tasks are among the most difficult to learn. When analyzing long-term results of admission exams of students at the Department of Geography, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, it turns out that high school students have great difficulties working with hypsography. Only a small percentage of candidates were able to solve tasks of this type. The objective of presented study is to determine whether and how much collaborative learning in virtual reality helps understanding the problem.
Lukáš Herman
added a research item
Immersive virtual reality (iVR) devices are rapidly becoming an important part of our lives and forming a new way for people to interact with computers and each other. The impact and consequences of this innovative technology have not yet been satisfactory explored. This empirical study investigated the cognitive and social aspects of collaboration in a shared, immersive virtual reality. A unique application for implementing a collaborative immersive virtual environment (CIVE) was developed by our interdisciplinary team as a software solution for educational purposes, with two scenarios for learning about hypsography, i.e., explanations of contour line principles. Both scenarios allow switching between a usual 2D contour map and a 3D model of the corresponding terrain to increase the intelligibility and clarity of the educational content. Gamification principles were also applied to both scenarios to augment user engagement during the completion of tasks. A qualitative research approach was adopted to obtain a deep insight into the lived experience of users in a CIVE. It was thus possible to form a deep understanding of very new subject matter. Twelve pairs of participants were observed during their CIVE experience and then interviewed either in a semistructured interview or a focus group. Data from these three research techniques were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis, which is research method for studying individual experience. Four superordinate themes—with detailed descriptions of experiences shared by numerous participants—emerged as results from the analysis; we called these (1) Appreciation for having a collaborator, (2) The Surprising “Fun with Maps”, (3) Communication as a challenge, and (4) Cognition in two realities. The findings of the study indicate the importance of the social dimension during education in a virtual environment and the effectiveness of dynamic and interactive 3D visualization.
Lukáš Herman
added a research item
Interactive 3D visualizations of geospatial data are currently available and popular through various applications such as Google EarthTM and others. Several studies have focused on user performance with 3D maps, but static 3D maps were mostly used as stimuli. The main objective of this paper was to identify differences between interactive and static 3D maps. We also explored the role of different tasks and inter-individual differences of map users. In the experimental study, we analyzed effectiveness, efficiency, and subjective preferences, when working with static and interactive 3D maps. The study included 76 participants and used a within-subjects design. Experimental testing was performed using our own testing tool 3DmoveR 2.0, which was based on a user logging method and open web technologies. We demonstrated statistically significant differences between interactive and static 3D maps in effectiveness, efficiency, and subjective preferences. Interactivity influenced the results mainly in ‘spatial understanding’ and ‘combined’ tasks. From the identified differences, we concluded that the results of the user studies with static 3D maps as stimuli could not be transferred to interactive 3D visualizations or virtual reality.
Lukáš Herman
added a research item
In this paper, we analysed and tested the possibilities for the use of low-cost VR (Virtual Reality) headsets, with a focus on cartographic visualization. Low-cost devices were compared and classified into three categories (low-end, mid-range and high-end). We also created a pilot virtual environment, called “Carthoreality”, and conducted simple pilot user testing using this virtual environment and the three low-end headsets. Our pilot test shows a few drawbacks to these devices, including weight of the headset and penetrating light. Some problems in terms of user aspects were also identified, such as nausea while wearing headsets or disorientation after removing them, which occurred for all users.
Lukáš Herman
added a research item
Various widely available applications such as Google Earth have made interactive 3D visualizations of spatial data popular. While several studies have focused on how users perform when interacting with these with 3D visualizations, it has not been common to record their virtual movements in 3D environments or interactions with 3D maps. We therefore created and tested a new web-based research tool: a 3D Movement and Interaction Recorder (3DmoveR). Its design incorporates findings from the latest 3D visualization research, and is built upon an iterative requirements analysis. It is implemented using open web technologies such as PHP, JavaScript, and the X3DOM library. The main goal of the tool is to record camera position and orientation during a user’s movement within a virtual 3D scene, together with other aspects of their interaction. After building the tool, we performed an experiment to demonstrate its capabilities. This experiment revealed differences between laypersons and experts (cartographers) when working with interactive 3D maps. For example, experts achieved higher numbers of correct answers in some tasks, had shorter response times, followed longer virtual trajectories, and moved through the environment more smoothly. Interaction-based clustering as well as other ways of visualizing and qualitatively analyzing user interaction were explored.
Lukáš Herman
added 3 research items
The use of touch displays and 3D visualization are both increasing. Devices with touch displays are used daily, especially by the younger generation, who are also known as digital natives. This paper examines a comparison between digital natives and adults (so-called digital immigrants). We created a pilot user experiment (within-subject design, two tasks, Acer LCD touch monitor and digital terrain models textured with satellite images as stimuli) testing the ability of participants to solve simple spatial tasks by manipulating a 3D environment on a touch screen. The tasks required a hidden object to be found in the terrain. Our own testing tool, called 3DtouchR, was used for this purpose. Response time, gestures used, and virtual movements were recorded and analysed. Results revealed that digital natives were quicker with interaction (shorter response times and average speed of virtual movements). The success of solving each task was evaluated by determining the distance between the searched object and the virtual camera’s final position. An analysis of gestures used revealed a higher frequency of pan gesture usage in all test participants.
The huge technological leap in recent years brought extensive possibilities of hypotheses testing in immersive virtual environments (VE) and geovisualizations. Traditional research standards require well controlled experiments with strict setting to bring valid data about human behaviour. Unfortunately, such experiments testify in a limited way about complex processes of human behavior and cognition and it is not usually possible to transfer their conclusions into real life. For various reasons, experiments are often strictly narrowed to reveal particular point, however for the price of external and ecological validity losses. With the use of VE, people can relive authentic simulation in controlled environment, providing ecological validity as well as huge deal of data, infinite options of experimental stimuli and simple customization and administration. In this paper we discuss the value added to virtual reality (VR) in the matter of ecological validity. We suggest procedures for behavioral analysis of interaction with 3D geovisualizations and outline possible applications.
The use of Virtual Reality (VR) in general and virtual geographic environments (VGEs) in particular is becoming more and more common. However, the use and usability of traditional graphical variables within such environments is still rather unclear. Our research is based on a review of studies about the three-dimensional spatial visualization. We performed two empirical studies focusing on the role of colour hue and the level of realism within the VR environment on the task (wayfinding) performance of users. In the first pilot study we compare their wayfinding ability using colour hue markers (decision points) versus grey markers in the test virtual environment. In the second pilot study we compare their wayfinding within two environments with different levels of realism, realistic and symbolized, including points of interest (PoI) used for navigation. Our results showed that colour hue highly influences the participants’ selection of points of interest and the level of realism affects their orientation ability, especially the number of PoIs they used. In general, participants perform wayfinding more effectively in the more realistic environment.
Lukáš Herman
added 2 research items
Interpretation of image data (one of the basic geographic skills—Řezníčková et al., Standards and research in geography education. Current trends and international issues, pp 37–49, 2014) is a complex of complicated intellectual operations, which is based on visual perception (for example, when working with a map, then we can talk about mapping skills—Hanus and Marada, Geografie 119(4):406–422, 2014). The theoretical part of the study summarizes the scientific knowledge of processes of visual perception applied in the process of visual interpretation of satellite, aircraft and map image data. The author presents partial phases of image data interpreting process: from the initial recording of the image to detection, identification and objects classification. The complexity of the cognitive process with regard to biological and psychological characteristics of the individual are highlighted. The research section presents the results of image data interpretation research according to gender of individuals/research respondents. The research results show (1) a consistent success rate and (2) a consistent speed of problem solving when dealing with image data of aerial and satellite images. The results were slightly surprising with respect to research results concerning map interpretation where respondents attain different degrees of success rate depending on gender.
This article reports on an empirical study investigating cultural differences in the visuospatial perception and cognition of qualitative point symbols shown on reference maps. We developed two informationally equivalent symbol sets depicted on identical reference maps that were shown to Czech and Chinese map readers. The symbols varied in visual contrast with respect to the base map. Our empirical results suggest the existence of cultural influences on map reading, but not in the predicted direction based on the previous cross-cultural studies. Our findings stress the importance of considering the cultural background of map readers, especially when designing reference maps aimed for global online use.
Lukáš Herman
added 2 research items
This paper examines 3D visualization of traffic offences based on open data sources at the city level. Most of the existing studies and applications focus on 3D visualization of qualitative data. For this reason, this paper concentrates on 3D visualization methods for quantitative data. The possibilities of creating 3D dot maps, statistical surfaces, graduated 3D symbols and prism maps and their effective use was studied. A pilot web application visualizing crime statistics was developed for verifying the applicability of selected 3D cartographic methods and the feasibility of open source technologies for crime mapping. 3D visualizations of selected traffic offences registered and solved by municipal police (different traffic offences types) are available in a pilot application for the city of Brno (Czech Republic). The design and implementation of map components, interactive functionality, limitations and opportunities for future development are also discussed.
Virtual reality (VR) offers wide range of possibilities regarding not only representation of real world phenomena, but also their dynamic modification and customization. A typical representation of the geographical space is geovisualization, which is widely used in practice, namely in education and teaching, but also in such an area as scientific research for revealing human cognitive processes. Interaction with such VR products consists of many specific types of action, however currently there is no uniform taxonomy for the basic units of interaction. With the growing number of VR products we need to summarize existing taxonomies to better understand and design next generations of geovisualizations. The concept of interaction primitives can offer basic framework for understanding dynamic interaction with virtual cartographic products. In this paper, we outline an issue of interaction primitives with respect to interactive 3D geovisualizations and suggest their specific application in the VR research and development.
Lukáš Herman
added a research item
This paper is devoted to 3D modelling at the city level from data sources considered as open. The open data presented in this paper enable free usage, modifications, and sharing by anyone for any purpose. The main motivation was to verify feasibility of a 3D visualization of floods purely based on open technologies and data. The presented state-of-the-art analysis comprises the evaluation of available 3D open data sources, including formats, Web-based technologies, and software used for visualizations of 3D models. A pilot Web application visualizing floods was developed to verify the applicability of discovered data sources. 3D visualizations of terrain models, 3D buildings, flood areas, flood walls and other related information are available in a pilot application for a selected part of the city of Prague. The management of different types of input data, the design of interactive functionality including navigation aids, and actual limitations and opportunities for future development are discussed in detail at the end.
Lukáš Herman
added 8 research items
The article presents the results of research focused on the speed and success rate of reading aerial images and topographic maps showing the same territory in the Czech Republic. Attention was focused on searching for objects of importance in terms of disaster management (railway and road bridges, road, watercourse, railway station, airport). The success rate was electronically evaluated by the Hypothesis software as a whole for the image, and the map was created for all respondents and for selected groups of respondents. The results showed that, with the exception of watercourse identification, other strategic objects are found faster and more reliably on color aerial images. No differences in speed and success of interpretation were found between men and women, laymen and experts. Soldiers and crisis management personnel were faster than laymen, but they were equally successful. Color aerial images or color aerial orthophotomaps have thus proved to be a key source of data for effective decision-making on a territory where a crisis event is taking place and where the deployment of a crisis unit is a need.
The mixed research design is a progressive methodological discourse that combines the advantages of quantitative and qualitative methods. Its possibilities of application are, however, dependent on the efficiency with which the particular research techniques are used and combined. The aim of the paper is to introduce the possible combination of Hypothesis with EyeTribe tracker. The Hypothesis is intended for quantitative data acquisition and the EyeTribe is intended for qualitative (eye-tracking) data recording. In the first part of the paper, Hypothesis software is described. The Hypothesis platform provides an environment for web-based computerized experiment design and mass data collection. Then, evaluation of the accuracy of data recorded by EyeTribe tracker was performed with the use of concurrent recording together with the SMI RED 250 eye-tracker. Both qualitative and quantitative results showed that data accuracy is sufficient for cartographic research. In the third part of the paper, a system for connecting EyeTribe tracker and Hypothesis software is presented. The interconnection was performed with the help of developed web application HypOgama. The created system uses open-source software OGAMA for recording the eye-movements of participants together with quantitative data from Hypothesis. The final part of the paper describes the integrated research system combining Hypothesis and EyeTribe.
Lukáš Herman
added a research item
Three-dimensional geovisualizations are currently pushed both by technological development and by the demands of experts in various applied areas. In the presented empirical study, we compared the features of real 3D (stereoscopic) versus pseudo 3D (monoscopic) geovisualizations in static and interactive digital elevation models. We tested 39 high-school students in their ability to identify the correct terrain profile from digital elevation models. Students’ performance was recorded and further analysed with respect to their spatial abilities, which were measured by a psychological mental rotation test and think aloud protocol. The results of the study indicated that the influence of the type of 3D visualization (monoscopic/stereoscopic) on the performance of the users is not clear, the level of navigational interactivity has significant influence on the usability of a particular 3D visualization, and finally no influences of the spatial abilities on the performance of the user within the 3D environment were identified.
Jiří Chmelík
added a research item
This paper summarizes the results of an experiment performed as basic research of 3D display of geographical information using with two alternative control devices (a Wii Remote Controller and a mouse). The aim was to explore the influence of a specific type of visualization on the human understanding of depicted geographical information and to discover which type of display – real 3D or pseudo-3D combined with a Wii Remote Con-troller and a computer mouse – can be considered better for working with geographical bases. The research was set up as an exploratory analysis and examined the performance of 17 participants. As expected, there were dif-ferences in the results between the kinds of visualization and devices used. The real 3D visualization appeared faster but less suitable for successful managing of tasks than the pseudo-3D visualization. We found no signifi-cant differences based on the controlling device when elaborating tasks, but we believe the Wii remote controller device to be a promising area for the future research.
Lukáš Herman
added a research item
This paper describes a new tool for eye-tracking data and their analysis with the use of interactive 3D models. This tool helps to analyse interactive 3D models easier than by time-consuming, frame-by-frame investigation of captured screen recordings with super-imposed scanpaths. The main function of this tool, called 3DgazeR, is to calculate 3D coordinates (X, Y, Z coordinates of the 3D scene) for individual points of view. These 3D coordinates can be calculated from the values of the position and orientation of a virtual camera and the 2D coordinates of the gaze upon the screen. The functionality of 3DgazeR is introduced in a case study example using Digital Elevation Models as stimuli. The purpose of the case study was to verify the functionality of the tool and discover the most suitable visualization methods for geographic 3D models. Five selected methods are pre-sented in the results section of the paper. Most of the output was created in a Geographic Information System. 3DgazeR works with generic CSV files, SMI eye-tracker, and the low-cost EyeTribe tracker connected with open source application OGAMA. It can com-pute 3D coordinates from raw data and fixations.
Lukáš Herman
added a research item
This study explores the influence of stereoscopic (real) 3D and monoscopic (pseudo) 3D visualization on the human ability to reckon altitude information in noninteractive and interactive 3D geovisualizations. A two phased experiment was carried out to compare the performance of two groups of participants, one of them using the real 3D and the other one pseudo 3D visualization of geographical data. A homogeneous group of 61 psychology students, inexperienced in processing of geographical data, were tested with respect to their efficiency at identifying altitudes of the displayed landscape. The first phase of the experiment was designed as non-interactive, where static 3D visual displayswere presented; the second phase was designed as interactive and the participants were allowed to explore the scene by adjusting the position of the virtual camera. The investigated variables included accuracy at altitude identification, time demands and the amount of the participant’s motor activity performed during interaction with geovisualization. The interface was created using a Motion Capture system, Wii Remote Controller, widescreen projection and the passive Dolby 3D technology (for real 3D vision). The real 3D visual display was shown to significantly increase the accuracy of the landscape altitude identification in non-interactive tasks. As expected, in the interactive phase there were differences in accuracy flattened out between groups due to the possibility of interaction, with no other statistically significant differences in completion times or motor activity. The increased number of omitted objects in real 3D condition was further subjected to an exploratory analysis.
Lukáš Herman
added a research item
Human-computer interaction has entered the 3D era. The most important models representing spatial information — maps — are transferred into 3D versions regarding the specific content to be displayed. Virtual worlds (VW) become promising area of interest because of possibility to dynamically modify content and multi-user cooperation when solving tasks regardless to physical presence. They can be used for sharing and elaborating information via virtual images or avatars. Attractiveness of VWs is emphasized also by possibility to measure operators’ actions and complex strategies. Collaboration in 3D environments is the crucial issue in many areas where the visualizations are important for the group cooperation. Within the specific 3D user interface the operators' ability to manipulate the displayed content is explored regarding such phenomena as situation awareness, cognitive workload and human error. For such purpose, the VWs offer a great number of tools for measuring the operators’ responses as recording virtual movement or spots of interest in the visual field. Study focuses on the methodological issues of measuring the usability of 3D VWs and comparing them with the existing principles of 2D maps. We explore operators’ strategies to reach and interpret information regarding the specific type of visualization and different level of immersion.
Lukáš Herman
added 3 research items
Human-computer interaction has entered the 3D era. The most important models representing spatial information — maps — are transferred into 3D versions regarding the specific content to be displayed. Virtual worlds (VW) become promising area of interest because of possibility to dynamically modify content and multi-user cooperation when solving tasks regardless to physical presence. They can be used for sharing and elaborating information via virtual images or avatars. Attractiveness of VWs is emphasized also by possibility to measure operators’ actions and complex strategies. Collaboration in 3D environments is the crucial issue in many areas where the visualizations are important for the group cooperation. Within the specific 3D user interface the operators' ability to manipulate the displayed content is explored regarding such phenomena as situation awareness, cognitive workload and human error. For such purpose, the VWs offer a great number of tools for measuring the operators’ responses as recording virtual movement or spots of interest in the visual field. Study focuses on the methodological issues of measuring the usability of 3D VWs and comparing them with the existing principles of 2D maps. We explore operators’ strategies to reach and interpret information regarding the specific type of visualization and different level of immersion.
Interactive 3D visualizations of spatial data are currently available and popular through various applications such as Google Earth, ArcScene, etc. Several scientific studies have focused on user performance with 3D visualization, but static perspective views are used as stimuli in most of the studies. The main objective of this paper is to try to identify potential differences in user performance with static perspective views and interactive visualizations. This research is an exploratory study. An experiment was designed as a between-subject study and a customized testing tool based on open web technologies was used for the experiment. The testing set consists of an initial questionnaire, a training task and four experimental tasks. Selection of the highest point and determination of visibility from the top of a mountain were used as the experimental tasks. Speed and accuracy of each task performance of participants were recorded. The movement and actions in the virtual environment were also recorded within the interactive variant. The results show that participants deal with the tasks faster when using static visualization. The average error rate was also higher in the static variant. The findings from this pilot study will be used for further testing, especially for formulating of hypotheses and designing of subsequent experiments.
The use of both 3D visualization and devices with touch displays is increasing. In this paper, we focused on the Web technologies for 3D visualization of spatial data and its interaction via touch screen gestures. At the first stage, we compared the support of touch interaction in selected JavaScript libraries on different hardware (desktop PCs with touch screens, tablets, and smartphones) and software platforms. Afterward, we realized simple empiric test (within-subject design, 6 participants, 2 simple tasks, LCD touch monitor Acer and digital terrain models as stimuli) focusing on the ability of users to solve simple spatial tasks via touch screens. An in-house testing web tool was developed and used based on JavaScript, PHP, and X3DOM languages and Hammer.js libraries. The correctness of answers, speed of users' performances, used gestures, and a simple gesture metric was recorded and analysed. Preliminary results revealed that the pan gesture is most frequently used by test participants and it is also supported by the majority of 3D libraries. Possible gesture metrics and future developments including the interpersonal differences are discussed in the conclusion.
Lukáš Herman
added a project goal
A lot of information that we use in everyday life is represented in the form of two-dimensional models of three-dimensional reality. Those models are useful which help us to understand the real world phenomena and create such a mental representation, i.e. “the image in our mind", which is close to reality and contains reasonable degree of details which can be processed easily by the recipient. In the applied areas, important models representing the spatial information are maps, either in its traditional paper form or on a display of specific electronic device, and also as a virtual environment. The development of these models and the evaluation of their applicability is the research subject for experts from various disciplines using different methods as well as different theoretical concepts and background.
The project is based on interdisciplinary communication and collaboration of cartographers, psychologists, pedagogues and IT experts. The project allows us to find answers to questions about how the different characteristics of models and different user interfaces influence the effectiveness of “communicating information” — e.g. the degree of understanding, the effectiveness of learning and follow-up decisions when solving experimental tasks. The proposed research design is focused on the research of basal cognitive processes and it also tends to conduct behavioral research on more complex levels in the perspective of pedagogical sciences. On the one hand, there will be compared alternative techniques of cartographic visualization in different user interfaces (UI) and on the other hand there will be examined the behavior of individuals and the effectiveness of learning in cooperative learning virtual environments (CLVEs). Research is hierarchically structured:
a) comparison of variants of cartographic visualization methods
b) comparison of UI variants
c) comparison of UI in the context of cooperative learning
The secondary objective of the project is to develop a mixed-methods research design that combines the advantages of both qualitative and quantitative methods. Thanks to cutting-edge instrumentation (e.g. large-format 3D projection, Motion Capture System, eye-tracking systems compatible with three-dimensional projection and integrated into virtual reality systems) and original software platforms VRECKO and Hypothesis, which are provided by laboratories Hume Lab at Faculty of Arts at Masaryk University (MUNI) and HCI Lab at Faculty of Informatics MUNI, and with the use of experimental or quasiexperimental methods, within this interdisciplinary collaboration can be the defined research questions effectively tackled.
 
Lukáš Herman
added a research item
Interactive 3D visualizations of spatial data are currently available and popular through various applications such as Google Earth, ArcScene, etc. Several scientific studies have focused on user performance with 3D visualization, but static perspective views are used as stimuli in most of the studies. The main objective of this paper is to try to identify potential differences in user performance with static perspective views and interactive visualizations. This research is an exploratory study. An experiment was designed as a between-subject study and a customized testing tool based on open web technologies was used for the experiment. The testing set consists of an initial questionnaire, a training task and four experimental tasks. Selection of the highest point and determination of visibility from the top of a mountain were used as the experimental tasks. Speed and accuracy of each task performance of participants were recorded. The movement and actions in the virtual environment were also recorded within the interactive variant. The results show that participants deal with the tasks faster when using static visualization. The average error rate was also higher in the static variant. The findings from this pilot study will be used for further testing, especially for formulating of hypotheses and designing of subsequent experiments.