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John Brookmyre's Blog

Data Visualization in a 3D World

When Alexander of Macedonia [link] was 33 he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer, its a shame he wasn't around in today's world as there would be plenty of battles for him to get his teeth into - especially with visualizing reams of information in a ever flowing and tempestuous sea of data which can be visualized in a 3D virtual world...

Recently I have been looking into different visualization techniques and I have been reading up on the opinions / thoughts of various leaders on the subject, my findings have distilled what I already knew - data visualisation is not just the icing on the cake it is the key part of the cake. It is at least as important as the data effort and is critical to the success of any data related work - I have a bunch of posts in the pipeline where I hope to share some of the tools and techniques that I have been looking at (including the offerings from Tableau [link], Panopticon [link] and others).

I digress, in this post I wanted to write about a really fascinating idea I stumbled across this morning - a 3D virtual world to display complex data sets and that is what made me think of the quote above. Green Phosphor [link]  aim to help businesses obtain insight by integrating complex data sets within 3D virtual world platforms. It opens a myriad of  opportunities - freedom to fly around worlds rather than slicing and dicing / drill down, an interactive, submerged environment along with the staggering collaboration prospects too...

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The above screen shots come from the public demo, called Second Life Glasshouse [link]. At time of writing, this is currently available for free online perusal. Very scientific / research focused but the potential for the BI space is pretty obvious - go to the Glasshouse site [link], enter a username with no password and start to walk around. Press w to get rid of gravity with Page Up and Page Down enabling you to fly. It is worth hitting = a few times to speed up walking. You can change to a first person perspective too. Alternatively check out the video below (demo starts at 39 seconds):

I am one for advocating that visualizations should provide actionable insight before anything else and I would recommend you having a quick look through these slides [link] by Ben Lindquist, CEO, Green Phosphor to see some other cool views as well as other benefits in terms of data sources and analytical functionality.

As always comments and feedback are welcome, thanks,




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