Why a third dimension?

The short answer is quite simple: using three dimensions allows us to see advanced spatial patterns. Humans are visual creatures. Images are the first thing we interpret. Of all our senses our brains first and foremost rely on our eyesight. Half of our brains are devoted to vision in some way.

Even though our eyes don’t actually see in 3D , our brains connect the two separate images our eyes see and create a 3D image. This is called stereoscopy. We use this for depth perception. In many cases 3D vision is simply necessary. Imagine catching a ball without depth perception, or picking up something from the ground. This would be very hard for us.

The elaborate answer

This same principle applies to visualization (think of Virtual Reality). Having more than two dimensions opens up a whole new world to explore that was previously non existent. This same concept can be applied to graphs as well.

Some of you may disagree and say: “But pie/bar charts made in 3D only make things harder to interpret.” This is completely true because that is sometimes referred to as “2.5D”. A 2D image rendered as if it was 3D. This only adds confusion as there are still only two variables being shown. This changes when a third variable is added to a graph (X, Y, and Z). You could only see this variable if it was being shown in three dimensions. This is where adding a third dimension, like VRBI does, truly shines. Now you can add a third variable, such as costs, FTE, risks, KPI’s or anything else for that matter. Three dimensional data visualization works especially well for spatial graphs like scatter plots. Take a look at the image below (click for the real graph) to get an impression of something that can not be done in two-dimensional graphs. This is the “insurance claims-triangle”. It shows the amount of money paid out by insurance companies per year and each following year. This is because lawsuits can run for many years in these cases. Ultimately this gives businesses an advantage over their competitors.


It is quite difficult to explain how human vision works because there’s a whole lot we don’t know yet. The brain has various sections handling visuals differently although cooperatively. Firstly, our brains process brightness and colors. Secondly, movement, contours and orientation are interpreted. There’s likely different sections for each function. What we know for sure is that color, movement and faces are processed by different parts of the brain. The brain works as a highly synergistic computer.

Humans and macaques can interpret images being shown in quick succession for as little as 13-14 milliseconds, researchers of the MIT found. Data continues to process after that because some subjects weren’t asked question until after the entire sequence was shown.

We have known for decades that images are remembered much better than words. Humans can remember over 2,000 images shown with over 90% accuracy in recognition tests. This makes sense according to one theory because images can be associated with representations of the world around us. That is why it exceeds word memory. This means that words are interpreted differently from images. From an evolutionary standpoint this is logical because after all remembering what we saw is critical for survival. Another study shows that presentations including visuals are 43% more persuasive than presentations without visuals. Using color also has dramatic effects.

What does this mean for you?

This is very interesting because all this information points us to one direction: including visuals to interpret and remember information better.

A benefit of adding visual elements to our analytics repertoire is that it helps us see patterns that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. This principle is often referred to as visual mining. Using visual cues to gain valuable insights from data.  This is not quite data visualization as used in online marketing, as those are often used to report conclusions and aren’t meant for drawing new ones. This is often used in Business Intelligence (& Analytics) software. BI is still in it’s early steps and is still done in 2D. This becomes obvious when so many work fields like: health care, military, engineering and architecture and even commerce are already utilizing true VR to improve their performance. Yet BI&A is lagging behind. Data is becoming more prevalent in our society every day. Businesses face complex problems and we need to find new (better) ways to handle it.

The ultimate goal is to view data in Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality. This would truly allow for an immersive experience. Imagine being able to interact with data by touching them or dragging them around. We are working hard to revolutionize the data analytics work field by introducing 3D.

VRBI offers you a way to translate a set of numbers into three-dimensional images, which can be tilted, rotated and translated in real-time. We believe data should be displayed in such a way that experts in a certain field – like analysts, doctors, geologists, detectives and financial experts, are able to draw conclusions from these data themselves without interference of the IT-department. Everyone can be a visual miner with the right tools. Join the future today by using VRBI to empower your analytical skills.