Big data, data visualization, and spatial relationships with computers

I’m going to tie together today’s previous postings (Sporty data science Digitizing and visualizing the humanities, and Picture worth more than a thousand numbers? Yes and no with a future-oriented Feb. 2010 TED talk by John Underkoffler (embedded below). I have mentioned this talk previously in my June 14, 2012 posting titled, Interacting with stories and/or with data. From his TED speaker’s webpage,

Remember the data interface from Minority Report? Well, it’s real, John Underkoffler invented it — as a point-and-touch interface called g-speak — and it’s about to change the way we interact with data.

When Tom Cruise put on his data glove and started whooshing through video clips of future crimes, how many of us felt the stirrings of geek lust? This iconic scene in Minority Report marked a change in popular thinking about interfaces — showing how sexy it could be to use natural gestures, without keyboard, mouse or command line.

John Underkoffler led the team that came up with this interface, called the g-speak Spatial Operating Environment. His company, Oblong Industries, was founded to move g-speak into the real world. Oblong is building apps for aerospace, bioinformatics, video editing and more. But the big vision is ubiquity: g-speak on every laptop, every desktop, every microwave oven, TV, dashboard. “It has to be like this,” he says. “We all of us every day feel that. We build starting there. We want to change it all.”

Before founding Oblong, Underkoffler spent 15 years at MIT’s Media Laboratory, working in holography, animation and visualization techniques, and building the I/O Bulb and Luminous Room Systems.

He’s talking about human-computer interfaces but I found the part where he manipulates massive amounts of data (from approx. 8 mins. – 9.5 mins.) particularly instructive. This video is longer (approx. 15.5 mins. as opposed to 5 mins. or less) than the videos I usually embed.

I think the real game changer for science  (how it’s conducted, how it’s taught, and how it’s communicated) and other disciplines is data visualization.

ETA Aug. 3, 2012 1:20 pm PDT: For those who might want to see this video in its ‘native’ habitat, go here

One thought on “Big data, data visualization, and spatial relationships with computers

  1. Pingback: Islands of Benoît Mandebrot: Fractals, Chaos, and the Materiality of Thinking exhibition opening in Sept. 2012 in New York « FrogHeart

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