Big Data on Big Displays

The gathering of big data is meaningless without tools that can help evaluate and interpret the information.  Access to highly visual data is not only a powerful research tool but is also a valuable aspect of business intelligence.

Ultra large displays provide a unique human-sized canvas for enhanced interpretation and analysis of visual data.  Add interactivity and these ultra large touchscreens (ULT) significantly improve the evaluation of complex data by changing the way users perceive and interact with the information.   The extra-large digital work space of an ULT allows presentation of enormous amounts of information at a glance for sense making, collaboration and for leveraging the data analysis of the group.

Business Intelligence

The most significant audience for big data output is business decision makers. The huge space of an ULT not only encourages collaborative analysis but the interactive surface shifts the emphasis from passive observation to interactivity enabling users to access information at any region of the display on demand.   By making the data visualization an immersive environment, data analysis can become more of a collective experience.  From here business intelligence highlighting real and predictive data across multiple business segments (sales, manufacturing, social media trends etc.) can be evaluated and manipulated in complex and creative ways.

Get the Big Picture

New research has shown that there are a number of advantages to using ultra large displays for enhancing data analysis and business intelligence including improvements in pattern recognition, correlation of abstract data and enhanced spatial understanding.  Adding a touchscreen also improves navigation and encourages group collaboration making ULTs a valuable tool for big data analysis.

Ultra large displays can present large amounts of information at a glance and provide space for sense making and collaborative analysis.

Pattern recognition, correlation of abstract data

The greater screen space of an ULT permits the simultaneous display of more complex data containing diverse data types and structures.  By seeing the big picture, sense making is further enhanced and may assist in revealing inter-relationships and insights between data sets that otherwise may go unnoticed.

Spatial understanding

The combination of the higher pixel density, increased workspace and direct interaction with the data of the ULT improves understanding of complex data.

ULTs provide the opportunity to show more detailed views rather than a single view allowing for display of detail and information for spatially interacting with the information at an aggregated level.


An ULT multi-touch surface offers effective and more engaging ways to use visualizations, making information more accessible and insight formation more attainable by allowing data manipulation directly on the screen.

The multi-touch interface of an ULT allows users to interact with the data visualization from any location on the display without requiring a cursor or other single point of interaction.  By removing the need for a special input device, multi-touch ULTs enable users an immersive experience by encouraging spatial arranging, linking, grouping, and clustering of information to expose further understanding.

Search and comparison

ULTs provide a very large workspace whereby one can take advantage of arranging, and more importantly rearranging, information to create a layout of the information that matches their mental model. For example, content can be placed anywhere on the digital canvas and moved around the workspace, enabling interactive visual exploration and comparison.


The huge digital workspace of an ULT supports the collaborative process in which information is more easily viewed and shared inspiring participation and input from the group.

One of the key benefits of multiuser collaboration is the ability to leverage the data analysis capabilities of multiple people engaging the group to unlock further insights.

Touchscreen technology has improved significantly making it possible to offer not only multi-touch interaction but also multi-user functionality.  The multi-touch surface provides direct interaction with the data and the multi-user functionality encourages collaboration and creative problem solving.

Big Display Options

ULTs are fundamentally different from conventional displays in that users are no longer confined to the limited area of a desktop display.  But selecting the right display technology for your data visualization is critical and there are a handful of options.

What is important is display resolution, specifically, the number of pixels per inch.  In addition to enhancements in detail, a touch screen requires an interaction distance of an arm’s length and thus the benefits of increased resolution and smaller pixel pitch size are of great value. With more pixels comes substantial enhancements to close viewing distances whereby text and fine features are clear and precise.

The new ultra-high resolution displays (UHD) are great for close distance and are being produced at sizes over 100”.  Even the projection displays are available with UHD resolution and the laser based systems offer scalability, 4K resolution and superior brightness.  Another alternative is LCD matrix walls whereby displays are tiled together to create a video wall with incredible detail and an enormous working space.

But designing for ULT displays is not simply a matter of scaling up existing visualizations or displaying more data; instead, designers must adopt a more human-centric perspective whereby the potential for an immersive, interactive, collaborative environment can be fully realized.


Technology allows the collection and storage of huge amounts of data from diverse sources that with proper analysis can unlock significant insights.  Business decision makers are beginning to unlock the potential of big data by using ULTs offering human-scale environments to evaluate, analyze and explore complex data and improve decision makers’ understanding of key elements of their business.

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