Our world is now brimming with data. Every home, office, machine and people is contributing their own bits and bytes to the every-growing data pool. Data collection is not the problem anymore. The problem now is understanding it and gleaning insights.

Kineviz, a startup that offers custom data visualization solutions and tools for enterprises, wants to solve the problem by drawing upon VR technology. The company’s product is basically based on a per client basis so as to satisfy specific requirements from different customers in a bit to make complex data easy to understand. The form of the product varies according to customer demands from conference experiences, apps, and internal tools.

Kineviz team — From left to right: Sony Green, Weidong Yang, Travis Bennett

“For a lot of things, 2D is still the best solution,” reckoned Sony Green, head of business development. “But VR offers a lot of advantages over existing data visualizations solutions, especially for certain kind of datas. When you get into really high dimensional data, something like 100 different dimensions per node. It’s difficult to keep track of all that info with lots of 2D graphics and it becomes a very large cognitive load for people to track them on multiple screens at once.”

VR allows us to tap into our natural abililty to process special information. Without looking around, we have an innate understanding of the spaces we are in because that’s how our brains are wired. In a simulated environment created by VR, we use these natural ways of processing information that a 2D screen can’t offer.

Furthermore, VR opens up use cases that were previous impossible by lowering the barrier for common users. You don’t have to be a data scientist: anyone who can play a game can use VR to explore data science in a way that is intuitive.

Thanks to the special capabilities of VR data visualization, this technology is now mainly applied into areas that need to process data with high complexity, such as healthcare and file sharing. Kineviz has already developed solutions for Baystreet Research, Box, and Berkeley.

Adopting a hardware agnostic approach, Kineviz is engaged in developing web VR, which all mainstream VR headsets like HTC Vive and Oculus support. “There’s more flexibility and we can handle all the functionality without having to develop separate solutions,” Sony noted.

Right now games and simulation are pretty much where everyone is focused, but the maturing VR market is also pointing to more business applications of the technology and data visualization is one of the areas it has great potentials.

In addition to VR, Sony says that the firm us also looking into AR. “The hardware and the overall experience of VR is so much more cohesive right now than the AR solutions we have seen,” he said. “That means when AR hardware catches up, we already have some of the questions answered in terms of ways to poach the interface and to program for a 3D special awareness of data.”

Weidong Yang, a Chinese American physicist entrepreneur, founded the company with technologist Travis Bennett in 2014. Based on a shared interest in dancing, Yang also founded Kinetech Arts, a not for profit dance performance company, where dance artists, visual/sound artists, engineers and scientists work together, with the vision of enriching the experience of live performance by the advance of science and technology.


Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.

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