We do not live in 2 dimensional world, only being able to move up, down, left and right. Our visual experience of the world is in 3 dimensions. We all understand what 3D means, however we are going to explore why 3D is so important when it comes to Data Visualisation.

In a previous article (link to article here) we explored the concept that Data Visualisation is not tied down to representing just statistics and numbers. We are able to visualise concepts, ideas and stories. When it comes to representing real world scenarios or potential concepts that would operate within the real world, 3D is king.

Let’s observe a few scenarios where 3D would be the best way maximise user engagement and why.

Scenario 1, Object/product Visualisation.

Let’s start off with something basic. You have designed an object, such as a new revolutionary ergonomic office chair, a pair of modern stylish headphones or even a grand architectural work of art in the form of a skyscraper that will become part of the London skyline. You have a concept. An idea of what this object will look like in the real world, however you need to represent this object visually. Using a virtual 3D environment, you are able to visualise and explore your object in various situations before you begin production. This allows you to explain and show your designs whilst being able to go back and make alterations.

Scenario 2, Exploring the Unexplorable.

You want to visualise the workings of an object or system that already exists, however when this object is functioning it is impossible to view the innards at work, e.g. a jet engine. Using 3D we are able to demonstrate a fully functioning jet engine, where we can pull it apart and explore every single nut and bolt all whilst the jet engine is still operating. It allows us to see all of the individual parts, moving and interacting with each other creating a stronger understanding in the viewer’s mind of how this system functions and operates, all without leaving the office.

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Scenario 3, Dangerous scenarios.

This has links to scenario 2 because let’s face it, trying to dismantle an operating jet engine is not the safest thing you could be spending your time doing. For this scenario let’s look at a natural catastrophe. Obviously this is something we would not wish to recreate in the real world however using 3D visualisations we are able to understand how these catastrophes can occur and the consequences on the surrounding environment. This gives us the chance to avoid or reduce the damage caused by preparing and planning for potential scenarios from virtual 3D simulations.

Scenario 4, Learning through experience.

Creating a 3D world also opens up the possibilities for the user to explore the landscape using an avatar (3D character), interacting with scenarios and making decisions based on what they see around them. Let’s say you are training to be an engineer, and you are using a 3D simulation, the simulation presents you with a malfunctioning piece of equipment. You are able to inspect the equipment and make decisions based on what you see. Working within a 3D simulated environment allows you to make mistakes and learn what you have done wrong without sacrificing expensive real world equipment. 

These scenarios are just some of basic examples. 3D has vast applications, and recent developments in virtual reality have also seen 3D become even more involved in learning processes. The Oculus Rift headset allows the wearer to view a 3D environment as they would in real life. The product is currently still in beta production but a consumer model is predicted to be released towards the end of 2015. This will create new opportunities for 3D and Data Visualisations. Future Fresh are always looking at how we can revolutionise the way we interact with information, and 3D is just the tip of the iceberg.