Gone are the days where information is static and unmoving. When we want information, we want it dynamic, colorful and contributed by real people, up to the minute. We are constantly collecting and analyzing data sent over the internet by millions of people every second of the day. The world's innovators realize a need to harness and visualize data so that it tells a compelling story, and well... captures our attention.
At IBM Research - Almaden, we thought there'd be no better way to do just that than to buy a 10-foot globe, drop it into our lobby and put all of our Research information on it for everyone to see.
The OmniGlobe is a digital spherical display, 60 inches in diameter, sitting in the front lobby, currently displaying accurate depictions of the Earth and planets in space in high quality, interactive animations. Using a touch screen podium, viewers can select images or sequences, which include climate, NASA sea currents, population density, marine impact, the earth 300 million years ago, sea ice & snow, and more.
And the OmniGlobe has an exciting future ahead - a team of IBM researchers at Almaden is working to display dynamic, real-time data (not just canned, static demos) of IBM Research related projects. This will require a complete re-writing of the software that comes with the globe. IBM researcher Matt Davis has been working on this for several months, while teammates, including Julia Grace and Barbara Jones, are also leading efforts on transforming the globe, one of these better known as "Cerulean" - a smarter shade of blue. Julia explains, "Certainly not every dataset is geospatial and can be shown on a globe; so for projects that might benefit from a spherical display, our team will build a framework that will allow Almaden researchers from all the functions to easily put their data on the globe, including high quality, interactive, dynamic animations and visualizations."
The research team will also take on the challenge of redesigning the touch screen interface - not only in terms of how it looks, but answering a few vital questions: What will the user experience be like? How will techies and non-techies alike to be able to walk up to the globe, immediately understand what it is showing, and be able to interact with it?
Learn more about IBM's interest in 3-D data visualization from Julia Grace, presenting at Web 2.0 NY 2010: