Bringing data to life with IBM Immersive Insights

Alfredo Ruiz
4 min readAug 23, 2017


“We are biologically optimized to see the world and the patterns in it in 3 dimensions. The more dimensions we can visualize effectively, the higher are our chances of recognizing potentially interesting patterns, correlations, or outliers” George Donalek.

IBM Immersive Insights was inspired by the way we think. AR, VR, and 3D visualization has caught the eye of many global executives as the next major revolution in technology. While the demo is still in an early stage, we have real-time data streaming to the headset and displayed in 3D, fully manipulable and scalable. It is also our way to begin exploring, creating and refining the next generation of enterprise applications for data analysis.

IBM Immersive Insights demo POV

IBM Immersive Insights helps users explore their data and communicate findings. It brings the power of Augmented Reality (AR) visualizations to data science tools, improving the user experience, data exploration and data analysis process. The project is initially designed with data scientists as the users, however Immersive Insights has all kinds of potential in data analysis and presentation, and can benefit business leaders and executives, analysts, and many other types of users.

Immersive Insights enables users to analyze data and generate insights with the power of 3D visualization. The Augmented Reality (AR) technology that we use helps the user view, control, and understand their data like never before.

With Immersive Insights, we aim to enhance workflows, create a shared collaborative space, and overall enhance the power of data science.

Real-time exploration using IBM Data Science Experience (DSX)


“Every day we generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. Data processing rates are growing continuously, so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.” IBM Research

With big amounts of information, finding the right insights can get pretty overwhelming.

With this growing amount of information, traditional analytical methods may not always would not be able to stay up to date.

The data science process has different stages, these stages include identifying a problem, get data, clean data, explore data, transform data, model data and finally communicate results. Data exploration is one of the most time-consuming stages. Scientists need to analyze and try many different relationships in data to get the right insights, that can be really time consuming.

We are targeting two aspects of the data science process. Immersive Insights helps users explore their data, and communicate findings. By visualizing data in 3D and viewing data from new angles and perspectives, we help data scientists identify key patterns, relationships, and outliers in seconds, where it would normally take hours of work.

Beyond data science, Immersive Insights has the potential and capacity to be used a presentation tool, where non-data experts can take advantage of the 3D visuals to better communicate any information.

Design Challenge

The design challenge with Immersive Insights was unique as we explored the new field of three-dimensional user experience design while learning and developing its application to data science. Augmented Reality is a relatively new technology, and there were very few design resources for us to rely on when beginning the project.

Prototyping and user testing is a big part of our design process.
Photo-realistic rendering help us conceptualize ideas.

We had to create our own design guidelines, working mostly through trial and error to establish a new set of best practices for this type of interface. The problems we examined were finding ideal dimensions and measurements for the interface, understanding how to respect the user’s personal space within the AR, what is the right distance and space for interaction between the user and visuals, and creating an overall holistic sensory experience for the user.

We made, tested and implemented these core user comfort guidelines without any precedent. We faced these design challenges in conjunction with considering how complex data science is and how our design could help with users’ workflow.

IBM Immersive Insights demo video



Alfredo Ruiz

Senior UX Designer @ Amazon | Alexa Smart Home. Frustrated Chef. Interested in Design, UX, ID and emerging technologies. Thoughts are my own.