Exploring the Challenges of Making Data Physical

A CHI2015 Workshop

Call for Position Papers

Physical representations of data have existed for thousands of years. However, it is only now that advances in digital fabrication, actuated tangible interfaces, and shape-changing displays can support the emerging area of ‘Data Physicalization’: the study of computer-supported, physical representations of data (i.e., data physicalizations) and their support for cognition, communication, learning, problem solving and decision making. As physical artifacts, data physicalizations can tap more deeply into our perceptual exploration skills than classical computer setups, while their dynamic physicality alleviates some of the main drawbacks of static artifacts by facilitating their crafting, supporting adaptation to different data, and encouraging sharing between different users.

This workshop will provide a forum to explore the four primary themes of research in this area: design, implementation, interaction, and evaluation. It will bring together a cross-disciplinary group of experts in Information Visualization, Visual Analytics, Visual and Tactile Perception, Tangible User Interfaces, and Shape-Changing Displays.

We invite you to submit a 2-4 page position paper, in ACM Extended Abstracts format, that describes current work, future directions, and/or significant challenges in the domain of data physicalization. Ensure your paper describes which of the one or more workshop themes best captures your area of work.

Please indicate which of the position paper authors will attend the workshop. Places are limited and we may need to cap the number of attendees per accepted paper. At least one author from each accepted paper must register for the workshop and at least one day of the conference.

Workshop Structure

This one-day workshop will guide discussion and brainstorming activities to provide critical discourse and insights into the challenges facing the field of data physicalization. The workshop will be broken into three main sessions facilitating participant familiarization, hands-on engagement with data-use, brainstorming, and consolidation of key challenges and directions for the field:

  1. Madness-style Position Statements: To serve as an introduction and to familiarize participants with each-others backgrounds and position on the topic. This will intentionally be kept short (~1hr for all participants) to encourage high-energy, and exciting presentations. Bring along any physicalizations you have previously created for a ‘show-and-tell’ session.
  2. Physicalization Design Challenge: A hands-on design challenge to explore the context of use, types of data, applications, and user-groups of physicalizations.
  3. Research Challenges and Directions Brainstorm: Participants will break into theme-based brainstorming groups to identify and discuss five key challenges in their identified topic, and outline reasons for their importance as research challenges. The topics will be consolidated into research trajectories for the field.

Key Information