We explore user interactions with concrete physical visualizations—physicalizations—of personal experiential data. We conducted three user studies involving physicalizations of data gathered while trail running—a sport in which participants are largely more focused on the experience than the exercise itself. In two qualitative studies, we asked trail runners to give us a GPS path from a "significant run" and then prepared a 3D physicalization featuring the path overlaid as a raised line on the corresponding real-world terrain. In the first, physicalizations had a significant impact in helping participants recall memories of their experiences, and participants shared many stories. In a follow-up study, we found that participants told frequent stories when interacting with physicalizations and very few with paper topographic maps. In a third, quantitative study, we found that participants could identify features of a path in mountainous terrain with greater speed and accuracy on a 3D physicalization than on a paper map. We theorize that these physicalizations allow for a reduced cognitive load as compared to 2D topographic maps, leaving mental faculties free to recall stored memories.
College and Department
Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Computer Science
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Anderson, Zann Benjamin, ""I Can Physically Feel the Difference": Exploring Physicalizations of Running Data" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 6655.
Human-computer Interaction, Visualization, 3D Printing