Now, iPad users can explore Excel spreadsheets with their fingers
Washington: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a visualization approach to help people explore complex data with their fingers.
Called Kinetica, this proof-of-concept system for the Apple iPad converts tabular data, such as Excel spreadsheets, so that data points appear as colored spheres on the touchscreen.
People can directly manipulate this data, using natural gestures to sort, filter, stack, flick and pull data points as needed to help them answer questions or explore hidden relationships.
Jeffrey Rzeszotarski, a Ph.D. student in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) who developed Kinetica with Aniket Kittur, assistant professor in the HCII, said the interactions are intuitive, so people quickly figure out how to explore the data with minimal training.
In user studies, people using an Excel spreadsheet to analyze data typically made about the same number of observations within a 15-minute time span as did Kinetica users, Rzeszotarski noted.
But the Kinetica users had a better understanding across multiple dimensions of data. For instance, Excel users analyzing data on Titanic shipwreck passengers might extract facts such as the passengers' average age, while Kinetica users would note relationships, such as the association between age and survival.