What google maps can do for biomedical data dissemination: examples and a design study

Jianu, Radu; Laidlaw, David H.
June 2013
BMC Research Notes;2013, Vol. 6 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
Background: Biologists often need to assess whether unfamiliar datasets warrant the time investment required for more detailed exploration. Basing such assessments on brief descriptions provided by data publishers is unwieldy for large datasets that contain insights dependent on specific scientific questions. Alternatively, using complex software systems for a preliminary analysis may be deemed as too time consuming in itself, especially for unfamiliar data types and formats. This may lead to wasted analysis time and discarding of potentially useful data. Results: We present an exploration of design opportunities that the Google Maps interface offers to biomedical data visualization. In particular, we focus on synergies between visualization techniques and Google Maps that facilitate the development of biological visualizations which have both low-overhead and sufficient expressivity to support the exploration of data at multiple scales. The methods we explore rely on displaying pre-rendered visualizations of biological data in browsers, with sparse yet powerful interactions, by using the Google Maps API. We structure our discussion around five visualizations: a gene co-regulation visualization, a heatmap viewer, a genome browser, a protein interaction network, and a planar visualization of white matter in the brain. Feedback from collaborative work with domain experts suggests that our Google Maps visualizations offer multiple, scale-dependent perspectives and can be particularly helpful for unfamiliar datasets due to their accessibility. We also find that users, particularly those less experienced with computer use, are attracted by the familiarity of the Google Maps API. Our five implementations introduce design elements that can benefit visualization developers. Conclusions: We describe a low-overhead approach that lets biologists access readily analyzed views of unfamiliar scientific datasets. We rely on pre-computed visualizations prepared by data experts, accompanied by sparse and intuitive interactions, and distributed via the familiar Google Maps framework. Our contributions are an evaluation demonstrating the validity and opportunities of this approach, a set of design guidelines benefiting those wanting to create such visualizations, and five concrete example visualizations.


Related Articles

  • OneZoom: A Fractal Explorer for the Tree of Life. Rosindell, J.; Harmon, L. J. // PLoS Biology;Oct2012, Vol. 10 Issue 10, p1 

    The article discusses a method that explores megatrees with millions of tips using web browser of any modern hardware with a zooming user interface similar to that used in Google Maps. It notes that the phylogenetic tree viewer allows interactive display of large trees. It adds that the order of...

  • Inhibition of return: Effects of attentional cuing on eye movement latencies. Abrams, Richard A.; Dobkin, Richard S. // Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception & Performan;Jun94, Vol. 20 Issue 3, p467 

    Focuses on an attentional phenomenon known as inhibition of return. Experiments; Causes; Eye-movement component of the inhibition; Implications for visual attention; Link between overt and covert orienting.

  • Object-based and environment-based inhibition of return of visual attention. Tipper, Steven P.; Weaver, Bruce // Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception & Performan;Jun94, Vol. 20 Issue 3, p478 

    Investigates inhibition of return of visual attention. Search mechanism; Internal representations upon which IOR functions; Conclusions; Physiological pathways that may mediate location- and object-based effects.

  • Effects of changing viewing conditions on the perceived structure of smoothly curved surfaces. Todd, James T.; Koenderink, Jan J. // Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception & Performan;Jun96, Vol. 22 Issue 3, p695 

    Studies the effects of illumination direction on perceptions of a male and female torso. Judgment of the shapes of the torso; Relationship between judgment and an affine stretching transformation in depth; Influence of changing illumination direction.

  • Luminance and edge information grouping: A study using visual search. Gilchrist, Iain D.; Humphreys, Glyn W. // Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception & Performan;Apr97, Vol. 23 Issue 2, p464 

    Presents a study on luminance and edge information in grouping using visual search. Experiments; Methods; Stimuli; Participants; Results supporting models of grouping in which brightness and edge information are processed separately.

  • Image velocity magnitudes and perception of heading. Dyre, Brian P.; Anderson, George J. // Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception & Performan;Apr97, Vol. 23 Issue 2, p546 

    Presents a study on the effect of image velocity magnitudes on the perception of heading. Heading models; Heading information from asymmetric distributions for image velocity magnitude; Experiments; Results showing that image velocity magnitudes influenced heading performance, suggesting that...

  • Testing race models of visual search. Strayer, David L. // Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception & Performan;Apr97, Vol. 23 Issue 2, p566 

    Presents a study on the race models of visual search. Predictions about the nature of the speedup in search performance as the number of stimulus features cuing the spatial location of a target increases; Relation between reaction time (RT), mean standard deviation and the number of stimulus...

  • Effects of spatial separation in visual pattern matching: Evidence on the role of mental translation Larsen, Axel; Bundesen, Claus // Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception & Performan;Jun98, Vol. 24 Issue 3, p719 

    Researches visual pattern matching of two pairs of random two-dimensional shapes to analyze the effects of spatial separation, focusing on the role of mental translation. Information on accuracy of performance as a function of spatial separation between stimulus patterns; Study method used for...

  • The role of attention in priming for left-right reflections of object images: Evidence for a dual... Stankiewicz, Brian J.; Hummel, John E.; Cooper, Eric E. // Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception & Performan;Jun98, Vol. 24 Issue 3, p732 

    Examines the role of visual attention in priming for object images and their left-right reflections relating to dual representation of object shape and visual perception. Information on the effect of attention; What results suggested; Details on visual priming and invariance with left-right...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics