dataviz using physics (part2)

I quickly added real data to the visualisation so now what you see actually means something. Every circle represents 20 persons either older or younger then 20 living in muide-meulestede-afrikalaan, a district in Ghent, Belgium.

before the toggle
before the toggle

Then I made a toggle button to make kids take up more space. Also in areas with less open space an extra factor will make them even bigger. The results seem readable to me and the toggle makes it easy to compare between not taking additional parameters (open space &demographics) into account and taking the extra info into account.

after the toggle

But who am I to decide over the importance of kids and open space… let’s add sliders.

with sliders

The sliders let the user decide which parameters are important and get immediate feedback. neat!

code at github.



Dataviz using box2D

Data. We’re creating more of it every day then ever before. Big companies are using your data it and you might (not) be happy with what you get in return. anyway they are crunching your big data come up with big numbers or even a score for your profile.

Besides not being very transparent about the algorithms most of the time, they create a currency you need to trust based on a gut feeling, but that’s another story.

A good trend is more and more governments and institutions are opening up their datasets to let the public access their data. Whether it is because a governments is legally obliged or a company/institute believes it can benefit from opening up their sources, we have access to some data to play with.

I’ve been reading up lately on the subject of data, and I went to where I was inspired. @flowingdata also compiled a nice list of blogs/sites on the subject on his site.

Working with visual data has always been of interest:

Armed with a Silicon Graphics Indigo 2 Extreme desktop workstation with R4400 processor, four gigabyte hard drive, and 128 megabytes of RAM, Borchers uses IRIS Explorer an interactive 3D data visualization system to analyze data. The team’s datasets range in size from four to 20 megabytes (based on foot scans producing 300,000 points in x-y-z spatial datasets). 1999 web 1.0 link

Now that I have 128Mb of ram I thought I should give it a go. I chose processing as I used it before for different tasks and it’s is a good protoyping tool used by dataviz pro’s to make stuff like cascade (built by @blprnt  at @nytlabs). Besides that, I recently had a nice re-intro to processing  by @vormplus and I followed a workshop @p5Ghent.

If you’re interested here are some other tools as well

Having just missed the Ghent appsforghent challenge it felt a bit odd at first to use the sets, but I’m a local, and you should think local(but act global, which is why this post in in English).

The Idea

An interactive explorative tool that allows you to visualise data on a map (of (part of) Ghent)

I wanted to express the fact that this particular place where I live is crowded, densely populated and this is why I started thinking about using physics. Particles bumping into each other, fighting for space.

This is far from finished but I thought I’d share this already.

It’s on github, next up is giving kids more space by mapping the demographic pyramids on this data and making the particles representing kids bigger. With the press of a button I could show what impact building a new high-rise flat will have in a certain area.

The user could set the desired sq meters of outdoor area per capita and see which neighborhoods are comfy and which are crowded. Much more thing a possible, but also a little more time is needed.

Right now it reads in map data from an SVG file, converts those shapes to box2D entities and populates them with particles.

the small points mean < 1 person!

The screenshot isn’t using the correct data yet but you don’t need a lot of imagination to see that it has more potential then the original

just using a map to display map related is a start and while that is an option on the site (which is a great source of info btw, well presented and all that) this static mapping doesn’t really say a lot. It’s crowded. period.

The exploration

I’m just using this example to explore the possibilities of using physics for making sense to data. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to map phyisical properties to your data that in real life exhibits the same properties. I can imagine  that if you need to sort certain types of data it could make sense to let them have a different density so some data floats while other would sink, while you’re actually visualizing eg. twitter vs. facebook.

to be continued

APC update

I hardly have time lately to code anything at home. I just dusted of the APC and I made slight progress going almost no sound to some sound…

That is in “dongle” mode. In stand alone mode it works fine. I even added a set of capacitors so you can switch between several sorts of sounds and a light sensitive resistor for that look-without-touching-I-can-play-this-APC-touch

I was successful in attaching it to the computer with the regular standard arduino’s + firmata and playing it from
puredata.But this is an arduino pro mini (5v 16Mhz, from sparkfun). Apparently firmata isn’t entirely the same on these mini’s. Although Since arduino 0017 I can connect and send data, it’s not without errors. First of all

[arduino]_WARNING_currently_unsupported: 176
[arduino]_WARNING_currently_unsupported: 160
[arduino]_WARNING_currently_unsupported: 176

Is what I see when I try to run the pd patch. lot’s of those, thousands…

Another weird thing is that even though pin 13 is unconnected on the arduino, It’s the only pin that seems to work. I really don’t get it. Is there some sort of different mapping? normally only pin 9-10-11 are supposed to work.

any ideas anyone?

Arduino controlled APC

I pimped an ordinary Atari Punk Console with some extra LEDs , a light sensitive resistor and … an arduino. It’s still a build in progress, I will have some pics up soon, but it WORKS.

I had some basic arduino sketch running, and I was fiddling with the pins on the 556 when suddenly a sound occurred. I was reproducible and so the synth was born.
I’m now working on the software which will either firmata/pduino or midi if I get the midi-in working. A third option is the netshield and puchabe.

I’ll keep you posted…

3D lcd screen

physorg has some (old) news about a 3D LCD screen. They claim it’s 3D so it has to use lecticular system to deliver seperate image to both eyes. On the other hand they say it uses two LCD screens which are then projected. This would be good as this way you would not notice any interlacing.  I have a hard time imagining it from this rather vague description and KDDI doens’t seem to have link on their site. KDDI is serious about R&D though…