Augmented reality as a visualization technique for scholarly publications in astronomy: an empirical evaluation

Explanatory graphic of experimental design, showing study participants (52 participants, 2 conditions alternating b etween non-ar and 1 ar, 3 astronomy tasks per condition). part one is a demographic survey. part two involves non-ar condition which is regular 3d on a phone, NASA-TLX difficulty survey, and one of either tabletop ar which is ordinary ar, or tangible ar where the user holds a 3D QR code, followed again by the NASA-TLX questionnaire. Part three is open feedback. Data types are isosurface and point cloud, task types are rotation, zooming, panning, selection, counting, and comparison. Tasks are T1 Tectonics, t2 core, t3 sundial, t4 galaxies, t5 mars, and t6 solar system.
Experimental design: Part 1, A survey on participants' expertise, experience with AR, and demographic information, Part 2, Two sets of three tasks in each the non-AR and one of the two AR conditions, along with NASA-TLX workload questionnaires, and Part 3 Open feedback from participants.
We present a mixed methods user study evaluating augmented reality (AR) as a visualization technique for use in astronomy journal publications. This work is motivated by the highly spatial nature of scientific visualizations employed in astronomy, including spatial reasoning tasks for hypothesis generation and scientific communications. In this 52-person user study, we evaluate two AR approaches (one traditional tabletop projection and the other with a 'tangible' aid) as spatial 3D visualization techniques, as compared to a baseline 3D rendering on a phone. We identify a significant difference in mental and physical workload between the two AR conditions in men and women. Qualitatively, through thematic coding of interviews, we identify notable observed differences ranging from device-specific physical challenges, to subdomain-specific utility within astronomy. The confluence of quantitative and qualitative results suggest a tension between workload and engagement when comparing non-AR and AR technologies. We summarize these findings and contribute them for reference in data visualization research furthering novel scientific communications in astronomy journal publications.
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Arzu Çöltekin
Alyssa Goodman

Khoury Vis Lab — Northeastern University
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