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The multi-sensory display of abstract data is a new and emerging area of study in the area of computer interfaces. One broad application of multi-sensory displays is to display abstract data using multiple senses in such a way that the user might detect useful patterns in the data. Gestalt theory explains how humans organize individual elements into groups and how humans perceive and recognize patterns. Because we are interested in the design of information displays that allow users to find patterns, Gestalt principles suggest themselves as one possible framework for collating useful design guidelines. This paper begins with a brief discussion of perception. This is followed by a short historical survey of major developments in perceptual theory. This paper surveys a number of theoretical and applied research works that concern Gestalt principles. From this survey the most commonly used principles are identified and relevant work to do with multi-sensory display is discussed. Finally, some opportunities to extend existing knowledge in the area of haptic display are identified.