The DataTrails experience uses AR to visualize the traces of personal data generated by smartphones and other screen-based devices. The visualization distinguishes between data on device location, social media usage, and personal information. Participants in our experience are invited to use iPads to see the data being emitted by devices sitting on a desk, and then create a trail of their own by walking around the space with their smartphone. By using AR to give data volume and material beyond the screen, we hope to make personal data more present in screen-based device experiences.

Imagining Data Shapes

What shape would data have? How much space would it take up? How would people interact with data? Would data decay like a natural organism over time? What would distinguish one type of data from another? What would happen when different kinds of data collided with one another…would it form new data?


“Immersive” is most often used to describe memorable or meaningful experiences. We want to feel immersed in our nights out, on our trips, in our movies and books. Our memorable experiences are ones where we lose ourselves in surroundings, in sounds, or other people. But losing yourself isn’t always a positive experience. We are mindlessly immersed when we get lost scrolling through social feeds for no reason, climbing down into search query rabbit holes to answer a question, or watching random videos that are only sort-of interesting. We emerge from these moments in a mild stupor, having lost our sense of time and place, as if we’d just woken up from an uncomfortable dream.

Complete project article can be read here.