Evaluation of data visualisation technologies for air traffic control

Lee, Yemon
Marks, Stefan
Connor, Andy
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Master of Creative Technologies
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Auckland University of Technology

Traditional data visualisation technologies in the context of air traffic control (ATC) currently utilise two-dimensional (2D) displays. However, presenting massive information on these traditional 2D displays may limit speed and efficiency of air traffic flow work. By comparison, virtual reality (VR) allows users to experience full immersion within a virtual environment. The virtual environment offers three-dimensional space compared to a two-dimensional image and computer screen. Therefore, VR technology has the potential to transform space and change flexibility in data visualisation.

This study investigates whether VR data visualisation technologies have the potential to positively transform the way humans interact with data in an immersive environment in the specific context of ATC. The core of this thesis is to compare VR data visualisation and more traditional 2D data visualisation, to determine whether immersive data visualisation enables human to have better control in information processing than non-immersive data visualisation.

This research incorporates a user study to examine the practicability of two similar user tasks between traditional 2D display and an immersive 3D environment using VR technology. Participants reported possible collisions between two prototypes with increasing levels of difficulties. Data was collected from participants’ data logs and questionnaires. Statistical methods were used in data analysis and to summarise effective interpretations for the research hypothesis. The outcomes of this analysis are mixed, showing some potential advantages for VR technology in terms of improving human’s performance in detecting a possible collision as well as analytical skill with increased speed and better accuracy. Such advantages are presumably that use of VR technologies can further strengthen problem solving capacity for air traffic controllers.

Data visualisation , Air traffic control , VR , Technologies , 3D
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