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A Comparative Usability Assessment of Augmented Reality 3-D Printed Terrain Models and 2-D Topographic Maps

Authors: Aaron Adams*, University of Connecticut, Michael N. DeMers, New Mexico State University , Daniel P. Dugas, New Mexico State University , Kenneth G. Boykin, New Mexico State University
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Cartography, Geography Education
Keywords: 3D Spatial Visualization, 3D Printing, Augmented Reality, Cartography
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Throughout history, cartographers have adopted new technological advances to facilitate spatial visualization. The printing press, aerial photography, and computer technology are just a few examples of this. In the 21st century, society is experiencing unprecedented rates of technological development, and many of these technologies offer potential benefits to facilitate spatial visualization. It is necessary to test the merits of these new technologies against the status quo to determine if it is worth investing the resources in implementing. The purpose of this research is to test a combination of two of these emerging technologies, augmented reality (abbreviated AR) and 3D printing, against traditional topographic maps to determine if they warrant further investigation as possible cartographic tools. To resolve this, I administered a series of spatial visualization tests to human test subjects to assess their performance with the different topographic representation. When I performed an analysis of the test scores, I found that subjects given the AR 3D printed terrain model performed better than those given a 2D map product. The results of this research will advise on the benefits of terrain models created using augmented reality and 3D printing and will inform future research on the topic.

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