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The word visualization is often used to describe an image or interactive piece of media that represents a data set. I am trying to think if there is an equivalent for something that is not only visual, but also tangible. That is, an object that represents data and that people can touch and see. If there is no word for this, can you think of a neologism for it e.g."tangiblelization"?

EDIT: By tangible I mean an object that can you can youch with your hands.

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Not sure, but what you're describing is almost virtual reality (VR). – spiceyokooko Jan 11 '13 at 18:29
Virtual reality is quite vague; it means, roughly, 'close enough to fool some people'. You want something that specifically addresses the tactile sense, right? Using the hands and eyes simultaneously? – John Lawler Jan 11 '13 at 18:33
Wouldn't that simply be a model? – coleopterist Jan 11 '13 at 18:38
The words tangibilization and tangibilize (note spelling) have a few hits on Google but don't seem to appear in many dictionaries. – Mark Beadles Jan 11 '13 at 18:46
That is usually called a prototype. Still not a finished product and very much still a part of the visualisation process. It may or may not be tangible depending upon the delivery medium of the product, cost of the project and is usually made for the sake of usability studies in order to refine the prototype more before finally entering the development phase. – Mohit Jan 11 '13 at 18:48
up vote 7 down vote accepted

To make something tangible is to make it real; realize is the usual term for this process, so realization would describe making an abstract dataset into something real.

A 3D printer allows the realization of abstract mathematical surfaces in polycarbonate.

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Thanks. That seems really accurate. However, the term "realization" probably wouldn't be as obvious as visualization. I do think a new term might be necessary. The definition of the term would certainly use the term realization. – amh Jan 12 '13 at 5:53

Some words usually adduced for such meaning are:
embodiment (“a physical entity typifying an abstraction”),
incarnation (“A person or thing regarded as embodying or exhibiting some quality, idea, or the like”),
manifestation (“”The embodiment of an intangible, or variable thing), and
reification, of which wikipedia says: “Reification generally refers to making something real, bringing it into being, or making something concrete. ...” Note, some people are allergic to the word reification (ie, will harshly criticize its use in almost any context) so do not use it widely or generally.

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Corporealization - to give physical form to. Not very often used, but it is a real word.

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That is usually called a prototype. It is still not a finished product and very much a part of the visualisation process. It may or may not be tangible depending upon the delivery medium of the product, cost of the project and is usually made for the sake of usability studies in order to refine the product more before finally entering the development phase.

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In the teaching profession where the use of tangible objects as teaching aids is common these are often referred to as manipulables

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Good point. Like Montessori's. Still, I'm looking for something more technologically sounding. – amh Jan 12 '13 at 5:54

I would think it would be perceptualization. (Although my computer doesn't recognize the spelling) As something that is tangible is something that can be perceived. Although I don't understand what you meant by "visual but also tangible"... Would not anything tangible be visible?


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You're right. Everything tangible would be visible. I meant that I am referring to something you cannot experience through a computer screen, but rather that you have to touch to experience. – amh Jan 12 '13 at 5:55

How about the fleshing out of a visual idea?

flesh out: to give substance to

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I had the same question and for me, materialization seemed to be the best option.

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Hi, and thanks for taking the time to post under this question. It's great that you want to help. However, this answer doesn't really seem to be a full answer. When answering it's best, in the case of single-word-requests, to give a good explanation why the word you're suggesting is a good one. If necessary quote and reference a dictionary. – Matt E. Эллен Jun 6 '15 at 20:54

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