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CHCI Student Member: Disha Sardana

November 8, 2021

Disha Sardana

Disha Sardana is pursuing an individualized interdisciplinary Ph.D. She is advised by faculty from various departments: Dr. Ivica Ico Bukvic from the School of Performing Arts (SOPA), Dr. Gregory Earle from the Electrical and Computer (ECE) Engineering Department, and Dr. Denis Gracanin from the Computer Science (CS) Department. She plans to focus on human-centric approaches to data analysis. When describing the motivation beyond her work, Disha says, “I want to create immersive experiences for people not just to analyze but also to feel the data in a way that creates an impact. From laypeople to experts, it would be valuable if I can help people understand complex phenomena by creating human-centric experiences.”

Disha Sardana’s research focuses on Immersive Analytics, an emerging field of data exploration and analysis in immersive 3D environments. When it comes to exploring data, visualization is the norm. We make line charts, scatter plots, bar graphs, or heat maps to look for patterns in data using traditional desktop-based approaches. However, biologically humans are optimized to observe the world in three dimensions. Her research is focused on the idea that representing data in an immersive 3D environment can provide a new perspective that may lead to the discovery of previously undetected data patterns. Experiencing the data in three dimensions, engaging multiple senses like sound and sight, and leveraging human embodiment, interaction capabilities, and sense of presence may lead to a unique understanding of the data that is not feasible using traditional visual analytics. 

When describing her experience with HCI at Virginia Tech, Disha says, “HCI at VT has made me more independent and confident in pursuing research opportunities with people outside of my comfort zone. Coming from an interdisciplinary background, sometimes I don’t have direct access to resources other students have, such as department seminars, guest lectures, or career-related opportunities. The CHCI at VT has personally helped me more by allowing me access to these wonderful resources, be it a workshop or an informal presentation. It has helped me connect with people from various backgrounds and disciplines within the HCI community at VT and outside, and understand their perspectives by bringing them together.”

You can hear more about Disha Sardana’s work at the Immersive Experiences Research Group meeting this Friday (11/12) at 1 pm.  Research group meetings are held in a hybrid form. Physical location: ICAT Observation Room (room 251) in the Moss Arts Center. Zoom links for events are available by subscribing to the CHCI calendar

Disha will be presenting “Multi-modal Data Exploration in a Mixed Reality Environment Using Coordinated Multiple Views.”


Immersive analytics is an emerging field of data exploration and analysis in immersive environments. The main idea is to use visual analytics and data sonification in a fully immersive 3D space. The availability of immersive Extended Reality systems has increased tremendously recently, but it is still not as widely used as conventional 2D displays. We describe an immersive analysis system for spatio-temporal data and compare how it performs in an immersive environment and on a conventional 2D display. We provide a novel view called map-plot that enables analysis and exploration of spatial time series data. We also design an embodied interaction for the map-plot view. The approach is realized based on the coordinated multiple views paradigm. In addition to the map-plot view, several standard views are available. Voice commands and spatial audio are used to support interaction and increase users’ embodiment. Data sonification is used to help users explore various dimensions of the data simultaneously. The findings from a user study show that the developed system is more efficient in a real immersive environment than using conventional 2D displays.