45 maneras de comunicar 2 cantidades

45 Ways to Communicate Two Quantities

http://blog.visual.ly/45-ways-to-communicate-two-quantities/

by Santiago Ortiz 2 years agoFILED UNDER: DESIGN
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Back in 2010, I was giving a workshop on interactive data visualization in Lima, Perú, discussing whether a dataset has a unique or at least an ideal way to be visualized. For a simple data structure — a list of some hundreds of numbers, for instance — around half of 20 participants were convinced that there’s one way that is clearly better in communicating the data, regardless of the unit of the values, their range, meaning, context and possible aim of the visualization. This discussion actually came out as a consequence of another idea, which resonated with most participants, as well: that there should be a guide that indicates the best way to visualize each possible dataset. So I proposed the following exercise:

let’s try to find all possible ways to visualize a ludicrously small data set of two numbers. Afterwords, let’s try to pick the best visualization.

With such a tiny dataset, you would think we would complete both exercises in less than 5 minutes. Yet, we spent more than two hours without having actually accomplished either of the two tasks. Not only was the number of possible ways to visualize two values far higher than expected, but also each single visualization method admitted multiple and interesting variations and opened new questions and discussions. The following is a list of different ways to visualize two numbers. In many cases, the visualization depends directly on the unit, meaning, interpretation and context of the values. Some of the examples might be seen as variations of the same theme, others will be perceived as excessively eccentric or even esoteric. On the other hand, I’m sure many of you will come up with visualization methods not included in the list (in which case, please include them in the comments!). I explain only some of the methods; in general they are clear and well known. Some have a very bad reputation, but I won’t get into that kind of discussion. I’ll also avoid the discussion about which method is better according to the context and goal.

75 and 37

1. writing, number notation 2. squares 3. repeated icon 4. hundreds, tens, units, decimals… represented by squares 5. bars 6. line graph 7. percentages bars 8. spliced bar 9. proportion 10. interval 11. squares merged 12. percentages in squares 13. pie charts 14. donut chart 15. circle areas 16. semi-circle areas 17. circle and external ring 18. co-centered circles 19. square divided 20. shape divided 21. square surfaces 22. shape surfaces 23. different shape surfaces 24. icon surfaces 25. icon height 26. volumes 27. special metaphors 28. gray tones 29. color scale 30. geometric proportions 31. horizontal/vertical proportions 32. coordinates 33. angles 34. geographic coordinates 35. values associated to countries 36. density 37. percentages / density 38. dashed 39. nodes and connections in a network 40. parameters of a mathematical function 41. harmonic frequencies 42. pulses frequencies (in pulses per minute) http://blog.visual.ly/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/pulses.html 43. rotation frequencies (in revolutions per minute) http://blog.visual.ly/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/rotations.html 44. sound frequencies (in Herz) a. 75: and 37: b. 37 to 75: 45. fat fonts

So what’s the point of this list?

I’m sure this list is not complete and could be organized in better ways. But I don’t think it’s possible to build a definitive list — it just doesn’t exist. New ideas will always appear (like in 45.) Among the methods mentioned in this list, some are scalable to bigger lists of numbers, and others are not. That’s because they don’t depict each value separately; rather, they say something about the relation between the values (for instance the ones that represent proportion, or the coordinate systems). By adding more numbers to the list, the amount of possible combinations rises exponentially. What happens if we move to other, richer datasets — lets say a table containing a list of countries, lists of numbers, and lists of dates? (I’m talking about small datasets anyway, nothing that could be called ‘big data’.) The data set not only contains more values, it contains different units. And not only could each list be interpreted and contextualized in different ways, the relations between lists and individual values can be interpreted and contextualized differently. This is the classic complexity context: simple elements that interact; you add more elements and the number of possible interesting (meaningful) patterns increases dramatically.

Information visualization is a language.

A language able to explain the world, tell stories, point specific facts and objects, elaborate ambiguous messages, defend arguments, attack arguments and carry ideas and ideologies. As any language, visualization works with combinatoric and generative rules. And as with any language, it’s just impossible to delineate its borders or enlist all the objects it can produce. It’s not a coincidence that I started and ended the list with text (from millennial to to the most recent notations): I see visualization as an extension of writing. By combining some of the methods of this list, it’s possible to create new ones: co-centered donut charts (14.) can be used to visualize tree structures, dashed shapes (38.) can be used on maps, line graphs with solid shapes (6.c.) can evolve to steam graphs, free shapes with surfaces proportional to values (23.) can be found in cartograms or non-rectangular treemaps; with fat fonts (45.) it’s possible to build special heat-maps, etc. The purpose of this list is to stimulate this kind of combinatorial, generative and creative thinking. Doing this exercise in Lima was a thoughtful experience for every participant, it raised multiple new ideas and debates, and that’s what I wanted to bring here. Don’t take this list as 45 answers to a question, but as 45 points of departure for new questions.

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ACM Creativity & Cognition (June 2015, Glasgow Scotland)

Design Journal & Conference Calls

Dates: 22-25 June 2015
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Website: http://www.creativityandcognition.com/cc15
Deadline for submission of papers: 6 January 2015
Deadline for submission of posters, etc: 6 March 2015

ACM Creativity and Cognition 2015 invites papers, posters, demonstrations workshops and Artworks investigating how interactive computing systems and sociotechnical processes affect creativity. We cherish creativity as a wonderful aspect of human experience, transformative and potentially transcendental. Creativity is the partner of inspiration, of moments when we seem to go beyond ourselves to reach new heights. Creativity is the font of innovation. Creativity and Cognition papers address the impact of computing on individual creative experiences, as well as social and collaborative contexts. In all cases, we seek for the presentation of work to include forms of validation featuring data about people, in order to show how computing environments impact human creativity. The data can take many forms, including qualitative, quantitative, and sensory. Creativity and Cognition 2015 will present papers addressing: (1) creativity support environments, (2) studies of technology, people…

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Lista de visualizaciones físicas y artefactos relacionados

List of Physical Visualizationsand Related Artifacts
This page is a chronological list of physical visualizations and related artifacts, curated by Pierre Dragicevic and Yvonne Jansen. Thanks to Fanny Chevalier and our other contributors. If you know of another interesting physical visualization, pleasesubmit one! Or post a general comment.

5500 BC – Mesopotamian Clay Tokens

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The earliest data visualizations were likely physical: built by arranging stones or pebbles, and later, clay tokens. According to an eminent archaeologist (Schmandt-Besserat, 1999): “Whereas words consist of immaterial sounds, the tokens were concrete, solid, tangible artifacts, which could be handled, arranged and rearranged at will. For instance, the tokens could be ordered in special columns according to types of merchandise, entries and expenditures; donors […]

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2600 BC – Peruvian Quipus

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Quipus were complex assemblies of knotted ropes that were used in South America as a data storage device and played an important role in the Inca administration. Only a handful of specialists could use and decipher them. Their meaning mostly remains a mystery but it seems that color, relative position of knots, knot types and rope length were used to encode categorical and quantitative variables. […]

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1839 – Théodore Olivier’s String Models

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Between 1839 and 1853 the French mathematician Théodore Olivier created string models to teach and demonstrate descriptive geometry, some of which were interactive. He was a student of French mathematician Gaspard Monge, who invented descriptive geometry and was already illustrating his ideas with rudimentary string models. Photo above: intersection of two cylinders. Sources: Nicholas Mee (2013) Strings, Surfaces and Physics. Photo above taken in the Musée […]

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1862 – Marshall Islands Stick Charts

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These physical visualizations show ocean swell patterns, and were built by native Micronesians from the Marshall Islands to facilitate canoe navigation. They were memorized before trips. The Western world remained unaware of the existence of these artifacts until 1862. The photo above is a stick chart from 1974. Straight sticks represent regular currents and waves, curved sticks represent ocean swells, and seashells represent atolls and […]

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1871 – Thermodynamic Surfaces

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A physical visualization by Irish physicist James Maxwell (left), constructed over the course of about seven months, from November 1874 to July 1875, based on the descriptions of thermodynamics surfaces described in two 1873 papers by American engineer Willard Gibbs. The molded shape depicts the geometry of the three-dimensional thermodynamic surface of the various states of existence of water: solid, liquid, orgas, shown on Cartesian coordinates of the entropy (x), volume (y), and energy (z) […]

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1880 – Plaster Models of Mathematical Functions

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In the 19th century, mathematicians became interested in the question how mathematical functions look like. Felix Klein, a German mathematician, painstakingly created such physical models in his lab in Göttingen and popularized them in America when he brought a boatload to the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. The photo above shows a model of a Clebsch surface from 1880, created by Klein and today kept at the University of Göttingen. Source:  Joshua […]

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1885 – Ammassalik Wooden Maps

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These three-dimensional maps were carved by inuits from the Ammassalik Fjord in Greenland, and used as eyes-free guides for sailing. The left one shows coastline, the right one shows a sequence of offshore islands. These inuit communities had had no direct contact with Europeans before a Danish explorer met them in 1885 and was shown the wooden maps. Sources: Bill Buxton (2007). Sketching User Experiences. […]

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1900 – Solid Terrain Modeling Techniques

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The Institute of Cartography ETH Zurich published an interesting review of past and present techniques for doing solid terrain modeling. Although terrain models are not physical visualizations in the strict sense, the techniques could be in principle used to convey data. Physical terrain models were already being built in 16th the century, and the review covers modern techniques from the early 20th century to today’s […]

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1901 – Davenport’s Physical Distributions

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In 1901, biologist Charles Davenport “built” physical visualizations that show the distributions of features of objects and people. These visualizations were made out of the objects and the people themselves. The purpose was to explain the notion of statistical distribution to a lay audience. On the left image, seashells are piled up according to how many ribs they have. On the middle image, students are arranged in bins according to their height. […]

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1907 – Pin Maps

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Left image: residence of Harvard students 6 years after their graduation (1907); made with beads, pins and wires. Middle image: Sources of the 3,000 first letters of appealsent to Mrs. E. H. Harriman (1912); eight different kinds of pins were used to represent different kinds of appeals. Right image: collection of pins and beads made for maps. Sources: Willard Cope Brinton (1914) Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts pp. 227-253. John […]

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1913 – Frankfurt Streetcar Load

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Strips of woods glued on top of each other convey the average number of passengers carried between two stops. Each strip corresponds to 4,000 passengers. Source: Willard Cope Brinton (1914) Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts pp 224-226.

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1914 – Solid 3D Curves for Engineering

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In his 1914 book, Brinton discusses various techniques for building solid models of three-dimensional charts and functions for the purposes of engineering, and uses the two designs above as examples. Although these don’t look like they could be solid models, the text from Brinton’s book suggests they are. The first one (left) is made of plaster and shows the characteristics of a light bulb. The […]

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1933 – IBM’s Cosmograph

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The left image above shows a physical flow chart (Sankey diagram) made of 1000 sheets of paper. It was not meant to be directly read, but to be photographed (see right image). The physical apparatus, called Cosmograph, allowed people without graphic skills to easily produce nice-looking Sankey diagrams. It was copyrighted by IBM in 1933 and sold for $50. Sources: Willard Cope Brinton […]

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1934 – Ford’s Globe

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A large rotating relief globe showing Ford company’s industrial sites around the word, exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1934. Sources: Willard Cope Brinton (1939) Graphic Presentation, p. 160. The Henry Ford Blog (2013) Ford at the Fair. More photos from the Henry Ford Online Collection.

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1935 – Electricity Power Demand

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A large 3D physical visualization made by the Detroit Edison Company showing electricity consumption for the year 1935, with a slice per day and each day split into 30 min intervals. Two other examples from different Edison electricity companies are discussed in Brinton’s book. These physical visualizations seem to have been used to better anticipate power demands. Sources: Willard Cope Brinton (1939) Graphic Presentation pp 364-365. Howard […]

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1939 – Map of Great Britain’s Marine Trade

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A physical World map made of copper and glass showing the size of Great Britain’s merchant marine and the main trade routes as 9,000 miniature ship models. Exhibited at the New York World Fair in 1939. Sources: Willard Cope Brinton (1939) Graphic Presentation, p. 207. Life Magazine (1939) New York Opens the Gates to the World of Tomorrow. Vol. 6, No. 20, May 15 1939.

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1945 – Electron Density Map and Molecular Model of Penicillin

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Electron density map and model of Penicillin created by Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin in 1945 based on her work on X-ray crystallography. The Penicillin molecule was the first molecule whose structure was derived entirely from X-ray data. Dorothy Hodgkin later received the Nobel price for applying the same technique to determine the structure of the B12 molecule. Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-94) was awarded the prestigious and exclusive […]

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1947 – Dorothy Hodgkin’s Electron Density Contours

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Nobel prize winning crystallographer Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin created another physical visualization in the mid 1940’s, showing part of the structure of penicillin. An original of this artifact is in the Oxford Museum of the History of Science. This technique recently inspired artist Angela Palmer for her glass portraits. Sources: Lachlan Michael and David Cranswicka (2008) Busting out of crystallography’s Sisyphean prison: from pencil and paper to structure […]

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1951 – Microtiter Plates

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A microtiter plate is an array of chemical test tubes called “wells”, invented in 1951 by a Hungarian medical doctor. They are used in a variety of experimental designs, most typically biochemistry assays. The picture above is an example of a colorimetric assay result. Most of the time, they are not directly interpreted visually, as in this example, but are instead put into a plate […]

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1957 – Proteine Visualizations

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Left image: The very first physical model of a protein (myoglobin) built by crystallographer John Kendrew in 1957 using plasticine. The image is from a 1958 Nature article, for a more recent photo see here. In 1960 Kendrew completed a higher-resolution skeletal model known as the “forest of rods”. The model was 2-meter wide, made of brass, and supported with 2,500 vertical rods, making it […]

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1968 – Jacques Bertin’s Reorderable Matrices

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A device made by French cartographer Jacques Bertin for exploring tabular data, developed in the mid 1960s. More photos on the aviz website, in the flickr photo set by Jean-Baptiste Labrune, and on Page 78 of Nathalie Henry’s PhD dissertation. Also see Jean-Daniel Fekete’s interview on Jacques Bertin by Enrico Bertini and our interview by Data Stories, where we demo a simplified version of Bertin’s matrix made by Innar Liiv. Sources: Jacques Bertin […]

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1968 – Charles Csuri’s Numeric Milling Sculpture

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Csuri’s wooden sculpture Numeric Milling is one of the few early computer sculptures created with a computer-driven milling machine… This work made use of the Bessel function to generate the surface. The computer program then generated a punched tape to represent the coordinate data. Included were instructions to a 3-axis, continuous path, numerically controlled milling machine. Sources:  Csuri Project: Plotter Drawing, 1966 – 1970: Numeric […]

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1970 – 3D Sankey Diagram

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This physical 3D Sankey diagram shows complex energy flows and was created in the 70s by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS). Little information is available about it. It seems to be composed of five layers of transparent sheet, with four additional layers running perpendicularly. Physical size unknown. Source: Energy Education References Wiki. Energy Flow Diagrams 1949-2009.

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1985 – Using the Physical to Explain the Virtual

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In this 1985 video, Rick Becker from AT&T Bell Labs explains the concept of “dynamic graphics”. Already in the early 70s, statisticians like John Tukey were starting to experiment with multidimensional data visualization on flat computers screens, including 3D data visualizations that could be interactively rotated to convey depth. This video shows how enthusiastic these people were to transition from the physical to the virtual. Nevertheless, […]

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1992 – Tactile Infographics

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In 1994 the American Printing House for the Blind publishes a short guidebook explaining how to convey infographics for the blind using tactile graphics. Part (and maybe all) of it is inspired by a 1992 book by Polly Edman. Sources: APH (American Printing House for the Blind), Inc. (1994) Tactile Graphics Starter Kit. Polly Edman (1992) Tactile Graphics

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2001 – Graph Board

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Mathematics and geometry are often taught to blind students using a cork board with raised grid lines, push pins and rubber bands. The right image shows a teacher explaining the use of the Graphic Aid for Mathematics, a physical kit sold by the American Printing House for the Blind. Date of invention unknown. Sources: Suzan Osterhaus (2001) Teaching Math to Visually Impaired Students. Youtube video series […]

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2002 – Scientific Visualization in Crystal

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Since the early 2000s, artist Bathsheba Grossman has been using 3D printing and subsurface laser engraving to produce 3D physical visualizations of data from astronomy, biology, math and physics. Left image: a piece of DNA molecule. Right image: a 3D map of our nearby stars. Source:  http://www.bathsheba.com (2002 version).

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2003 – Solid Terrain Model with Airplane Trajectory

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A real case study involving the use of a physical 3D trajectory visualization on top of a 3D terrain model to analyze the causes of a plane crash. This case study is interesting in terms of cost-benefit analysis, since these models appear to be extremely time-consuming to build. The case study includes an informal comparison with animations: “The mock jurors later related that the physical model […]

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2003 – Time Pieces: Physical Space-Time Cubes

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Artist Marilynn Taylor created seven three-dimensional maps (one for each day of the week) in which time is the z-axis and a copper wire shows how she moved across the city during the day. Source: Maryline Taylor (2003) Time pieces – Mapping the time and space of place (2003 version).

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2003 – Mount Fear: Elevation Map of Crime Rates

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A 3D map of East London where elevation represents the rate of violent crimes between 2002 & 2003. Corrugated cardboard, 145h x 540w x 425d cm. Source: Abigail Reynolds. Mount Fear East London.

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2004 – Cylinder: Early Sound Sculpture

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Cylinder by Andy Huntington and Drew Allan may be one of the first digitally-fabricated sound sculptures. Source: http://extraversion.co.uk/2003/cylinder/

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2004 – Full-Color 3D-Printed Scientific Visualizations

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As early as 2004, the Visualization Research Lab from Brown University printed full-color 3D models of scientific visualizations. They published a poster on the topic where they discuss the technical challenges they faced. The printer used was a Zcorp Z406. Source: http://vis.cs.brown.edu/areas/projects/rapid.html

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2004 – Modern Molecule Models

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Since 2004 the Molecular Graphics Laboratory at the Scripps Research Institute has been making heavy use of 3D-printed full-color physical molecule models, some of which are articulated (left image), flexible (middle image), and even self-assembling (right image, see video). They also publish augmented reality systems that use those physical models. Sources: Web Page: http://mgl.scripps.edu/projects/tangible_models Tommy Toy (2011) How Arthur Olson’s Molecular Graphics Lab at Scripps is Using […]

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2004 – XenoVision Mark III: A Dynamic Solid Terrain Model

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The XenoVision Mark III Dynamic Sand Table (left image) by the company Xenotran is a self-reconfigurable solid terrain model for military applications. There is little information on this device but it seems well ahead of its time. Michael Schmitz and coauthors explain how this high-resolution shape display with 7000 actuators was originally inspired by a scene from the X-Men movie (right image).  Sources: Directions Magazine (2004) Interview with […]

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2004 – Synaptic Caguamas: Visualize Cellular Automata

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Synaptic Caguamas is a kinetic sculpture consisting of a motorized Mexican “cantina” bar table with 30 “Caguama”-sized beer bottles (1-litre each). The bottles spin on the table with patterns generated by cellular automata algorithms that simulate the neuronal connections in the brain. Every few minutes the bottles are reset automatically and seeded with new initial conditions for the algorithm, so that the movement patterns […]

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2005 – Time-Evolving Scatterplot

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Unemployment rate plotted against inflation for 8 countries over 10 years. Every layer represents a year and each country is a wire of a different color. This physical visualization was built by Tim Dwyer for his PhD dissertation. His goal was to experimentally compare a 3D and a 2D data representation, and he used a physical object to emulate a perfect 3D display. Source: Tim Dwyer […]

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2005 – Tactile Rubik’s Cubes

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An online article compares several different designs for tactile Rubik’s Cubes created between 2005 and 2010. Left image: different objects on the outside of the cube give each side a different feel. Right image: laser-cut shapes. Source:  Smithsonian magazine.

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2006 – Physical Voting Charts

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Participative visualization where people pick badges from tanks to vote. A lower bar means more votes. Source: Lucy Kimbell (2006). Physical Bar Charts.

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2006 – Nathalie Miebach’s Woven Sculptures

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Woven sculptures of weather data. Source: Nathalie Miebach. http://www.nathaliemiebach.com/weather.html (see TED Talk).

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2007 – Global Cities: Elevation Maps of City Population

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Large-scale physical density models where plywood forms represent the populations of 12 of the world’s major urban centres. Made by a team of designers and architects led by Professor Richard Burdett. Source: Eliza Williams (2007) Global Cities at Tate Modern. Right photo by Stefan Geens.

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2007 – Varieties of Sound Sculptures

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Starting from 2007, sound became an endless source of inspiration for data sculptors. Examples include (images from left to right): Binaural by Daniel Widrig & Shajay Bhooshan (2007) Sound/Chair by Plummer Fernandez (2008) Sound Memory by Marius Watz (2008) Reflection by Nicolas Fischer & Benjamin Maus (2008) I Will Never Change by Us by Benga (2012) Microsonic Landscapes by Juan Manuel de J. Escalante (2012)

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2007 – Wable: Web Behavior Shown with a Dynamic Bar Chart

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A dynamic bar chart visualizing one’s online activity. From the company’s website: The personal feeds from webapplications like Plazes, Flickr, and Last.fm tell much about the activity of an individual on the internet. In this project we aim to explore how you can visualize the changes of your web identity over time and create a physical link between your virtual and real identity. The interface consists of both […]

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2007 – Wavefunction: Visualize Public Presence in Waves

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Wavefunction is a kinetic sculpture comprised of fifty to one hundred Charles and Ray Eames moulded chairs (designed in 1948) and placed in a regular array of rows, facing the entrance to the exhibition space. When someone approaches the work, a computerised surveillance system detects their presence and the closest chairs automatically begin to lift off the ground, creating the crest of […]

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2008 – Kids Reconstruct Harry Potter’s Social Network

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At the 2008 science fair (fête de la science), the Aviz group had kids build physical node-link diagrams of Harry Potter’s social network using magnets and rubber bands. Source: Aviz. http://www.aviz.fr/old/fetedelascience08/

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2008 – Scientific Visualization in Crystal

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Paul Bourke proposes to use sub-surface laser engraving for communicating about scientific findings at conferences. He also has seminar slides and a poster discussing the use of 3D-printed models. Source: Paul Bourke (2008) Presenting Scientific Visualisation Results as 3D Crystal Engravings.

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2008 – Andreas Fischers’ Data Sculptures

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Andreas Nicolas Fischer is a Berlin-based artist. Above are four of his 3-D data sculptures: Fundament (world GDP and derivatives volume) Indizes (finance data over time) A week in the life (cellphone communications) Reflection (FFT of a music piece). Source: http://anfischer.com via infosthetics.

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2008 – Justin Stewart’s Data Sculptures

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A 3-D graph and a time series visualization. Source: http://thesocietypages.org/graphicsociology/tag/r-justin-stewart/

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2008 – Rearrangeable Wooden Model of Brain Scan

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A selection of MRI data glued on 60 wooden blocks which allow to physically dig into cross sections. More details on infosthetics. Source: infosthetics.com.

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2008 – Activity Logging with LEGO Bricks

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A visualization and logging method for personal work activity. Every tower is a day of the week. A layer is one working hour, horizontally subdivided in four quarters of an hour. Different colors are different projects. The constant availability of this interface makes it easier to log personal activity data on-the-fly, before entering it in a PIM software (an automatic method involving computer vision is […]

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2008 – Bug Tracking with LEGO Bricks

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Takeshi Kakeda explains how to use LEGO bricks for bug tracking. Source: Takeshi Kakeda (2008) Tangible Bug Tracking using LEGO bricks. Agile 2008 conference.

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2008 – Joshua Callaghan’s Physical Charts

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Joshua Callaghan has created various extruded 2-D charts. Source: http://www.joshuacallaghan.com/Graphs.htm

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2008 – BMW Kinetic Sculpture

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The Kinetic Sculpture is a metaphorical translation of the process of form-finding in art and design. 714 metal spheres, hanging from thin steel wires attached to individually-controlled stepper motors and covering the area of six square meters, animate a seven minute long mechatronic narrative. In the beginning, moving chaotically, then evolving to several competing forms that eventually resolve to the finished object, the kinetic […]

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2009 – Form Follows Data: Tableware

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This set of tableware by designer Iohanna Pani conveys personal statistical data. Source: designboom

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2009 – In-Form: More Data-Driven Tableware

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Another data-driven tableware, this time conveying world statistics. The fork on the image shows calories consumption for the US and three other countries. Source: Nadeem Haidary.

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2009 – S-XL CAKE: Irregular Cake Mold

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A cake mold that creates pieces of cake in different sizes. Although not a physical visualization, it could in principle encode data. Source: Ding 3000 via Infosthetics.com.

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2009 – Distribution Plushies

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A commercial offer for a set of 10 plush distributions. Although not formally physical visualizations, they could in principle encode actual data. Source: web shop

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2009 – Mitchell Whitelaw’s Weather Sculptures

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Weather data is another interesting choice for creating data jewelry. Above to the left is a bracelet created by Mitchell Whitelaw based on one year of weather data from Canberra. The right image shows a measuring cup made by the same artist, where each ring represents monthly average temperatures in Sydney over 150 years. Sources: Mitchell Whitelaw. Weather Bracelet (2009) Mitchell Whitelaw. Measuring Cup (2010)

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2009 – DataMorphose: Animated Sails

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DataMorphose is an interactive installation which projects various data streams into real space and visualizes it three-dimensionally. Information is represented by spanned and moving sails directly in the room. Source: Christiane Keller (2009). Data Morphose.

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2009 – Pulse: Animated Heart Shows Sentiments

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pulse is a live-visualization of recent emotional expressions, written on private weblog communities like blogger.com. Weblog entries are compared to a list of emotions, which refers to Robert Plutchik’s seminal book Psychoevolutionary Theory of Emotion published in 1980. Plutchik describes eight basic human emotions in his book: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, and anticipation. He developed a diagram in which these eight emotions, together […]

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2009 – Virtual Gravity: Giving Physical Weight to Data

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Virtual gravity is an interface between digital and analog world. With the aid of analog carriers, virtual terms can be taken up and transported from a loading screen to an analog scale. The importance and popularity of these terms (data base: Google Insights for Search), outputted as a virtual weight, can be weighed physically and compared. Therefore impalpable, digital data get an actual physical […]

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2009 – Poly: Physical Bar Chart Showing Online Poll Data

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Poly, a self-actuated bar chart which shows replies to online polls. Sources: Digit, London. Original polling website is down [Oct 2014]; check out an archived version instead.

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2009 – Centograph: Dynamic Bar Charts Show Keyword Popularity

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Ten actuacted bar charts that show the popularity of keywords of interest in news articles over time, made by the company Tinker from London. A separate search interface is provided on a regular desktop computer and sends queries to the Google News Archive. It is permanently installed in the St Paul’s School for Boys Computing Department in London.  Sources: infosthetics Tinker London

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2009 – Leithinger’s Interactive Shape Displays

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Daniel Leithinger, PhD student at MIT MediaLab and his colleagues, are studying interaction with shape displays. The team designed two impressive shape displays made of arrays of ultra-fast motorized pins. Relief (2009-2010, first row above) is made of 120 motorized pins on top of which can be added a rubber sheet and a projected image. Each pin can be addressed individually and senses user input like pulling and pushing. […]

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2010 – Data Sculptures in Class

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The two data sculptures above have been created by undergraduate students as part of a design class given by Andrew Vande Moere at the University of Sydney. A 2010 article he coauthored with Stephanie Patel (link below) provides many other examples of these. Andrew Vande Moere has published several articles on data sculptures since 2008. Sources: Andrew Vande Moere and Stephanie Patel (2010) The Physical Visualization of Information: […]

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2010 – Relational Ornaments: Networks Shown with Textile

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Textile art based on the network maps of Valdis Krebs.  Gundega Strautmane, a Latvian textile artist and designer, visualizes social and physical networks in a show called Relational Ornaments. The networks are created using various sized pins to depict nodes and threads connecting them to show relationships. Bringing visualization into the tactile world lends it a weight not able to be achieved on a […]

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2010 – Keyboard Frequency Sculpture

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A 3D bar chart on top of a keyboard which shows the frequency of each letter in the alphabet. Source: Michael Knuepfel. Keyboard Frequency Sculpture.

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2010 – Limbique: Brain Slices

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A neuroscientific physical visualization made by an artist and a neuroscientist. Exhibited at the at the VisWeek 2011 art show. Source: David Paulsen and Pinar Yoldas. Photo by Samuel Huron.

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2010 – Thematic Maps of Germany

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Physical cartographic visualizations built by geographer Wolf-Dieter Rase with a Z650 printer. Left: average prices for building lots in Germany in 2006. Middle: unemployment in Germany in 2006; The surface represent trends, the columns represent local deviations from the trends (magenta means higher, cyan means lower). Right: travel distance to airports. Source: Wolf-Dieter Rase (2012) Creating Physical 3D Maps Using Rapid Prototyping Techniques.

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2010 – Hans Rosling Adopts Physical Visualizations

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Hans Rosling communicates about population growth and income inequalities using stacks of plastic boxes (left image, 2010) and pebbles (right image, 2012). Sources: Left image from TED talk via infosthetics Hans Rosling’s shortest TED talk on youtube.

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2010 – Headspace: Array of Actuated Bars

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Artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman created Headspace, a matrix of 256 motorized bars (total size 150 x 150 x 80cm) to display the faces of over 700 schoolchildren. Not a data visualization, but could be used as such. Source: Geoffrey Drake-Brockman (2010). http://www.drake-brockman.com.au/

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2010 – Shanghai Spheres

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For the 2010 World Expo at Shangai, Japanese firms ADK and Murayama and Las-Vegas firm Fisher Technical Services, Inc. created an array of 1,008 15cm diameter actuated spheres, each suspended by its own micro winch. The show does not include data visualizations. Kinetic sculptures made of arrays of suspended spheres abound. An early one is Joe Gilbertson’s (2007). More recent ones include Kinetic Rain (2012) and […]

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2010 – Dynamic Bar Chart to Visualize One’s Finances

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A design project by Swedish designer Hampus Edström to help people keeping an overview of their financial situation. Sources: Hampus Edström, project presentation. Yanko Design blog.

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2010 – eCLOUD & airFIELD: Ambient Airport Visualizations

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Left image: eCLOUD is an airport installation at the San Jose International Airport created by Dan Goods, Nik Hafermaas, and Aaron Koblin. It is made of many large LCD pixels laid out in 3D space whose opacity change as a function of weather. Right image: A similar installation called airFIELD was created by the same team two years later. It shows air traffic and is installed at the Hartsfield-Jackson […]

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2011 – From Over Here: News Trends

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“From Over Here” is a physical representation of articles from the New York Times from 1992-2010. Each card represents a month of articles about, or related to Ireland. The people and topics mentioned in the articles are etched on each card. Sources: Paul May, From Over Here, March 2011. infosthetics. Flickr album by Paul May – paulmay.org.

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2011 – LEGO Cartogram: Prism Maps

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Prism maps showing migration patterns between the Americas. Each Lego brick represents 10.000 people. Source: Samuel Granados. Lego Cartograms (via FlowingData and infosthetics).

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2011 – Tōhoku Japanese Earthquake Sculpture

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A data sculpture by Luke Jerram that depicts nine minutes of seismographic readings during the 9.0 earthquake. Source: Gizmodo. Photo by Luke Jerram.

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2011 – Paper Models of 3D Plots

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Paul DeMarco from Maplesoft explains how to slice up 3D plots to build solid paper models. Source: Mapleprimes

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2011 – United States Electoral Vote Map

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This is a 3D scale replica of the United States, the state height corresponds to the number of electoral votes each state controls in a presidential election. Source: thing 11178 on thingiverse.com

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2011 – Can We Keep Up: Sponges Show Domestic Water Usage

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Can We Keep Up is a a physical data visualisation that investigates the domestic need for water in cities all over the world. Source: infosthetics.com. Image from Hal Watts.

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2011 – DataCoaster: Data-Driven Toys

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DataCoaster is a re-imagining of the classic waiting room toy. But instead of arbitrarily loopy lines, DataCoaster’s lines are generated by data, essentially transforming a simple, kinetic toy into a graph of information. If you’re interested in getting one of these for your data, have a look at the source for this entry and contact Bobby – he is planning to offer this service. Source: Bobby Genalo. DataCoaster.

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2011 – Laser-Cut Time Series

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Temperature measurements in Helsinki from May 2009 to May 2010. Each row is one week long. Source: Miska Knapek, see flickr photoset.

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2011 – David Bowen’s Sea Wave Replicators

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Top: Tele-present water by David Bowen is an actuated surface controlled by wires and servo-motors that replicates sea wave patterns measured in real time in a remote location. Bottom: Underwater is a larger-scale version created by the same author. Sources: David Bowen (2011) Tele-present water series. David Bowen (2012) Underwater series.

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2011 – Adrien Segal’s Data Furniture

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Adrien Segal is an artist with a background in furniture design. She takes a data-driven approach where she uses data of natural events and environmental developments and transforms them into beautiful furniture. The choice of forms and materials conveys the origin of the data in an intriguing way. Left image: TRENDS IN WATER USE is a data sculpture that graphs national statistics of […]

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2011 – Warning: Real Time Global Air Quality Display

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Warning – Real Time Global Air Quality Display is an installation of ambient display that receives data from the internet about the air quality in 30 cities in 5 continents. The installation of these data is dynamically displayed on a screen and a physical structure through a lighting system (LED) located in a public space. The motivations for this project are digital aesthetics of climate change[…]

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2012 – General Motors’ 3D LEGO Visualizations

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LEGOs help business executives log and explore data. Sources: Mark Wilson (2012) How GM Is Saving Cash Using Legos As A Data Viz Tool. The Daily Drive (2012) GM Plays with Legos (Video).

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2012 – All Possible Photons: Steel Feynman Diagrams

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These are stainless steel sculptures of Feynman diagrams created by Edward Tufte. They are currently (opening Sep 12, 2012) exhibited at Edward Tufte’s gallery in Chelsea. Source: Edward Tufte. All possible photons – The conceptual and cognitive art of feynman diagrams.

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2012 – Thesis LEGO Board

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A design exploration of LEGO-based physical visualizations for project management by educational scientist Daniel K. Schneider. Source: Daniel K. Schneider (2012) Lego-compatible thesis project board. Edutech Wiki.

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2012 – Meshu.io: Order Data Jewelry

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A company lets you enter in cities you’ve been to and generates a physical mesh to order as a necklace, earrings, or cufflinks. Source: http://meshu.io/

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2012 – Matthijs Klip’s Data Sculptures

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Left image: data sculpture by Dutch designer Matthijs Klip showing life expectancy of the Netherlands population. Each bar maps to an age; the bar’s height represents life expectancy while its length represents the amount of people having that age. Right image: other designs by Matthijs Klip. Source: Matthijs Klip (2012) Physical Information Design.

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2012 – Putting Physical Visualizations to the Test

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These physical bar charts, showing the evolution of country indicators over time, were used to conduct the first empirical study showing that physical visualizations can outperform their on-screen counterparts for data retrieval tasks. Sources: Yvonne Jansen, Pierre Dragicevic and Jean-Daniel Fekete (2013) Evaluating the Efficiency of Physical Visualizations. Also see Yvonne Jansen’s PhD dissertation on Physical and Tangible Information Visualization (2014).

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2012 – PARM: Static Terrain Models with Projection

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The PARM system is part of an ongoing research project at the University of Nottingham. A static physical relief model is augmented with top projection to display landscape details and to overlay with additional data visualizations. Sources: James Goulding’s project page. Pristnall et al (2012). Projection Augmented Relief Models (PARM): Tangible Displays for Geographic Information.

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2012 – Hypermatrix: Animated Matrix-Walls

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2012 Yeosu EXPO HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP created by media artist group : Jonpasang. Hyper-Matrix is a kinetic landscape installation created for the Hyundai Motor Group Exhibition Pavilion in Korea, the 2012 Yeosu EXPO site. The installation consists of a specially made huge steel construction to support thousands of stepper motors that control 320x320mm cubes that project out of the internal facade of the building. […]

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2012 – Emoto: Projection Augmented Heatmaps of Twitter Data

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The core of the install­a­tion is a phys­ical data sculp­ture consisting of 17 objects, each repres­enting all Tweets we have collected during one day of the Olympics. Mapped onto this phys­ical sculp­ture we have then projected indi­vidual heat maps for the most inter­esting themes we have iden­ti­fied while observing emoto during the Games. Users were able to navigate through these themes using an inter­active […]

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2012 – Dynamic Network Sculpture

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A physical space-time cube representation of cultural heritage data. Source: Florian Windhager, Eva Mayr. Cultural Heritage Cube: A conceptual framework for visual exhibition exploration. IV ’12.

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2012 – Large-Scale Drone Swarm

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Floating spheres again, but this time there is no wire. An outdoor demonstration of 49 quadrocopters in a synchronized motion, by Ars Electronica Futurelab and Ascending Technologies GmbH. Sources: The Blaze (2012) Also watch another demonstration involving 20 small quadrocopters indoors by the GRASP Lab at the University of Pennsylvania (2012).

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2012 – Chaotic Flow: Abstract Flow Visualization of Copenhagen Bike Traffic

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Biking is the transport form of choice in Copenhagen, Denmark. The city is equipped with generous bike lanes and the municipality put up counters at some check points to get a better estimate of the thousands of cyclists coming through every hour. Tobias Lukassen, Halfdan Hauch Jensen and Johan Bichel Lindegaard from Illutron Collaborative Interactive Art Studio used this data to create the above […]

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2013 – Solid Statistics

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Left image: A 3D printed version of the “Forbes 2000” list showing the 240 largest companies, by Volker Schweisfurth. Market value is mapped to surface area, sales volume is mapped to volume, and the continent from which the company originates is mapped to color (America (blue), Europe (green), Asia (yellow)). The picture illustrates how a physical model of this 3D visualization gives a better […]

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2013 – Network of the German Civil Code

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A room-filling visualization by Oliver Bieh-Zimmert (Visual Telling) that illustrates the patterns of references within the German civil code. Each red thread stands for a reference to another paragraph. Source: you can find more info and images on the visual telling website.

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2013 – NYC High School Dropouts

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Ben Kauffman and Sam Brenner created this visualization as part of the ITP program at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. It is a combination of a 3D-printed relief map of New York City with beads where each bead represents one school location. Each bead on top of the relief map is connected to a string below whose length indicates the number of students who dropped […]

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2013 – Layered 2D Plots

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A series of stacked 2D plots showing changes in energy sources for different countries by PhD student Simon Stusak from University of Munich. All plots are cut from acrylic and hold together in one corner to facilitate alignment of the layers. The y-axis is mapped to countries, the x-axis to different energy sources, and the z-axis to time. Sources: Simon Stusak (2013) Physical Visualizations: An Exploration. […]

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2013 – Rearrangeable 3D Bar Chart

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A modular physical visualization like this rearrangeable 3D bar chart allow people to sort, filter, compare and examine data by direct physical manipulation. Sources: Yvonne Jansen and Pierre Dragicevic (2013) An Interaction Model for Visualizations Beyond the Desktop. Also see Yvonne Jansen’s PhD dissertation on Physical and Tangible Information Visualization (2014)

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2013 – Season in Review: iPad + Physical Charts Show Baseball Stats

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Baseball stats for an entire season created by Teehan+Lax labs as a combination of an interactive ipad app with an overlay of physical charts cut from acrylic. Depending on the current choice in the app, the edges of different charts get highlighted by the ipad. Source: Teehan+Lax labs & vimeo.

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2013 – SweatAtoms: Physical Activity Sculptures

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Rohit Ashok Khot is a PhD student at the Exertion Games Lab at RMIT University in Melbourne who studies how physical visualizations of self-logged physical activity data can enhance the experience of exercising and perhaps provide an incentive for exercising more. Sources: Khot et al (2013) SweatAtoms project page Khot et al (2014) Understanding Physical Activity through 3D Printed Material Artifacts

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2014 – People Wood: Data Sculpture of Questionnaire Data

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Manor House Development Trust, a charitable social enterprise centred in Hackney, commissioned Something & Son to create a sculpture to take pride of place in the new Redmond Community Centre at Woodbury Down in North-East Hackney. Something & Son approached Inition for help creating a crowd-sourced data sculpture featuring a forest of over 400 3D-printed trees, each corresponding to an individual’s answers to an online […]

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2014 – Sphere Packing: Visualize Composers’ Total Musical Production

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“Sphere Packing” is a series of 3D-printed spheres designed to concentrate the entire musical production of a composer in a single dense multi-channel device. The size of each sphere is directly proportional to how prolific the composer was, for example the sphere for Johann Sebastian Bach has 48 cm diameter and holds 1100 loudspeakers playing simultaneously Bach’s 1100 different compositions, while the […]

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2014 – Light Painting Acceleration

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Note from the curators: we wouldn’t qualify this entry as a physical visualization, but we can’t resist posting it. It is hard to classify, there is definitely something physical to it, and it may be inspiring for those who want to explore new types of physical visualizations. By mapping the output of a motion sensor to the hue of an LED strip (red for +2 G’s along the […]

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2014 – Water Works: Maps of the San Francisco Water Infrastructure

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“Water Works” is a 3D data visualization and mapping of the water infrastructure of San Francisco. These consist of three large-scale 3D-printed sculptures, each generated by custom C++ code. The concept behind the project is to make visible a small portion of an invisible network of pipes underneath our feet.  The three physical data visualizations are: “San Francisco Cisterns”, “Imaginary Drinking Hydrants” and “Sewer Works”. “Sewer Works” uses […]

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2014 – Blaue Blumen: Handcrafted Offline Data Visualization of Population Density

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Physical visualization of the population density of the world. Handcrafted with toothpicks and a styrofoam ball. Based on data taken from this map. Source: Ewa Tuteja, (http://tuteja.info/blaueblumen/)

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