Data visualization enters a new dimension
Hans Rosling, the recently deceased Swedish statistician, once said “My interest is not data, it’s the world. And part of the world development you can see in numbers.” Realizing that adding visual elements could make those numbers dance, Rosling developed techniques that paved the way for modern data visualization.
Here are just two recent examples where data—when analyzed and applied—can have substantial impacts. An analysis of the smart clothing market shows that up to 50% of injuries are preventable—a huge opportunity for wearables. Likewise, smart home data translated into easily digestible, and actionable insights for home owners can help us live more sustainably.
But we’re on the cusp of a more immediate way to quickly digest critical data points—without having to look at another screen. A recent augmented reality (AR) prototype uses a soccer match as the focal point for live action and real-time data to come to life, together, before the viewer’s eyes, through three-dimensional holographic depictions of in-game play paired with performance stats on team and player.
For a fan of the game like me, being able to pair analytics with action—while remaining focused on the game—is a thrilling prospect. The benefit for businesses and other organizations is that the technological advance introduces a compelling format to prevent risk. Experts say that the lack of interactive data was one reason why New York City was unprepared for Hurricane Sandy. AR-powered depictions of this information not only help form a clear picture out of disparate data sets, but also allow the viewer to quickly comprehend how an issue in one area can impact the larger infrastructure.
New technologies will continue to evolve. But the need to make all our data compelling and actionable will remain constant. The next generation of data visualizations promises to not just make the numbers dance—but to choreograph complex data sets, so that our insights and resulting actions are in step with the ever-changing reality.