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Data visualisation project

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A project that merged on-screen data visualization with physical computing. Implemented through the use of Processing and Arduino this project allowed people to engage with data from the 1816 natural disaster Year Without Summer. The events were visualized mimicking the natural cause and effect chain reaction. The resulting interactive exhibition piece also used the power of storytelling to capture people’s imaginations.
The physical input was implemented using Arduino and the data visualisation was created using Processing. The aim was to create an experience in which the user could manipulate the data on screen using the physical controls.

Despite the lack of knowledge on electronics, this technology is easy to learn and although challenging sometimes, it allows to accomplish very interesting solutions.

As part of the project we used several techniques to prototype all the different aspects of the project. These included prototyping with pen and paper, with play-doh and several digital prototypes.

As part of the project we used several techniques to prototype all the different aspects of the project. These included prototyping with pen and paper, with play-doh and several digital prototypes.

The actual data visualisation unfolded in the same chain reaction as the actual events of the disaster. Users were allowed to explore the cause and effect nature of the events as well as were informed where those particular events occurred, when and how many people died as a direct result.

An example of one of the visualisations. These were coded using Processing.

Testing the physical components. A constraint set in the design brief was that it was mandatory to use a dial as the main interaction. For our project the dial worked similar to the iPod click wheel allowing users to naturally scroll up and down the chain of events. This mimicked the chain reaction in which the actual events unfolded.

Mimmicking the iPod wheel, our dial consisted on a series of buttons that put together in the shape of a wheel was able to replicate the interaction of a regular dial.

The create a feel of authenticity "scans" from a long lost book relating to the natural disaster Year without summer were created to be displayed next to the data visualisation. The scans were showcased on an extra screen while the "original" book was displayed next to it encased due to its fragile nature.

The create a feel of authenticity "scans" from a long lost book relating to the natural disaster Year without summer were created to be displayed next to the data visualisation. The scans were showcased on an extra screen while the "original" book was displayed next to it encased due to its fragile nature.

The project was created as an exhibition piece and a background story was created to enhance the experience.

The project was created as an exhibition piece and a background story was created to enhance the experience.

Testing several ways to present the data on screen in order to deliver the information to the user in the most convenient way.

Testing several ways to present the data on screen in order to deliver the information to the user in the most convenient way.