Data Viz of Physical Activity

In this research, two different types of personal physical activity data visualizations – a Circular Ringmap (bottom left figure) and a Virtual Pet visualization (bottom right figure) – are proposed and compared to a widely used commercial approach, the FitBit bar chart (top figure).
A study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the three visualizations based on participants’ task performance and self-reported experience. In this study, we investigated people’s performances in a visualization task and then explored their self-reported evaluations of visualization attributes – Readability, Comprehension, Awareness, Attractiveness and Empathy.

The results showed that in objective terms, there were not significant differences in participants’ time spent on the task and their error rates across the three visualizations. However, in subjective terms, participants did perceive the visualizations differently. The pragmatic bar chart won on several attributes (readability, comprehension, and awareness), and the Virtual Pet visualization triggered an emotional response (empathy). Although the Circular Ringmap visualization helped participants with identifying activity patterns, it was not perceived to be intuitive or helpful overall.
From this study, first, we learned that how people perform a task does not equal how participants perceive. Second, decisions in designing specific visualizations related to personal data should depend each individual goals and contexts. Last, the role of emotion, which was triggered by the design of visualizations, is discussed.



Tong X., Gromala, D., Bartram L., Rajabiyazdi F., Carpendale S., Evaluating the Effectiveness of Three Physical Activity Visualization – How People Perform vs. Perceive, IEEE VIS workshop, vis4me, 2015.



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