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The case for 3D charts

As part of my work during the Nikkei-FT fellowship, I wrote an article for the FT’s Chart Doctor column arguing for renewed investigation into the proper use of 3D depth cues in charts.

Data visualisation experts have long derided the use of depth cues in charts, largely due to widespread misuse of 2.5D charts. But there are academic studies showing that, for certain chart types, using 3D depth cues actually improved comprehension. More importantly, the growing popularity of virtual reality and augmented reality could mean that 3D, rather than flat screens, simply becomes the natural environment for people in the future.

As Colin Ware, a professor who has been studying human perception for decades, noted:

“When I first started, people actually did studies that showed there’s very little benefit to colour,” Professor Ware recalls. “People were having a really hard time demonstrating empirically that colour should be used instead of textures or shading [to convey data]. But now, no one would think of not using colour.”

Read the full article on FT.com