Stephen Few over at Perceptual Edge has written an article about how Panopticon developped a new way to visualize data over a specific period of time and how this visualization got academic backup from a research team. The researchers worked independently and tested various variations of the horizon graph. Measuring readability und the easy of understanding the data they came to a set of design implications to optimize the visualizations. The description of the horizon graph and it’s variations is best summed up in the bespoken paper.
The first article, the paper and the article about the cooperation are superb reads and we highly recommend them as a case study of succesful cooperation between software vendors and academic researchers.