As we enter the era of data deluge, turning data into knowledge has become the major challenge across most sciences and businesses that deal with data. In addition, as we increase our ability to create data, more and more people are confronted with data management problems on a daily basis for numerous aspects of every day life. A fundamental need is \emph{data exploration through interactive tools}, i.e., being able to quickly and effortlessly determine data and patterns of interest. However, modern database systems have not been designed with data exploration and usability in mind; they require users with expert knowledge and skills, while they react in a strict and monolithic way to every user request, resulting in correct answers but slow response times. In this paper, we introduce the vision of a new generation of data management systems, called \emph{dbTouch}; our vision is to enable interactive and intuitive data exploration via \emph{database kernels which are tailored for touch-based exploration}. No expert knowledge is needed. Data is represented in a visual format, e.g., a column shape for an attribute or a fat rectangle shape for a table, while users can touch those shapes and interact/query with gestures as opposed to firing complex SQL queries. The system does not try to consume all data; instead it analyzes only parts of the data at a time, continuously refining the answers and continuously reacting to user input. Every single touch on a data object can be seen as a request to run an operator or a collection of operators over part of the data. Users react to running results and continuously adjust the data exploration - they continuously determine the data to be processed next by adjusting the direction and speed of a gesture, i.e., a collection of touches; the database system does not have control on the data flow anymore. We discuss the various benefits that dbTouch systems bring for data analytics as well as the new and unique challenges for database research in combination with touch interfaces. In addition, we provide an initial architecture, implementation and evaluation (and demo) of a dbTouch prototype over IOs for IPad.

DataExplore: Querying the Universe in a few seconds
Biennial Conference on Innovative Data Systems Research
Database Architectures

Idreos, S, & Liarou, E. (2013). dbTouch: Analytics at your Fingertips. In Proceedings of Biennial Conference on Innovative Data Systems 2013 (6). CIDR.