Space-Time Cube Visualization in Interactive Environments

New visualization approaches to support understanding historical landscapes

The European Parliament announced 2018 as the European Year of Cultural Heritage, as this is increasingly becoming a vital factor in socioeconomic development. Resources inherited from the past include many forms, among them monuments, sites and landscapes. The research conducted at the Chair of Cartography of TUM focuses on developing new visualization approaches for cultural heritage to increase its visibility and integrate its spatial location and uniqueness into visual stories. As case studies serve Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland (World Heritage Site of UNESCO) and the historical objects surrounding the Via Appia route in Italy.

Different states of landscape objects can be described as creation, destruction, development or renovation. Within these changes a long time elapses from one state to a new one. This much longer period of time can be examined with the use of the space-time cube technique. The stack of layers represents different states of the landscape throughout the centuries and makes visible historical elements, such as buildings, water bodies or green areas.

The visualization system for the Royal Castle in Warsaw consists of a web application and a mixed reality hologram. Typical cartographic techniques and design principles are transferred to match the requirements of 3D and 4D visualizations. The web application is created with an open source virtual globe library and provides different mouse-based interactivity options such as rotating and zooming in the cube. The hologram developed in Microsoft HoloLens enables new interactions with historical objects through gaze, gesture and voice. The users can move and rotate the cube with their hands, place it in any physical space and walk around the visualization. Developed applications are implemented not only for research purposes, but also educational entertainment for both domain experts and cultural heritage visitors.