by Joanna Ptolomey
We all know that we are drowning in data. Data is collected everyday by sensors, continuous imaging, transaction records and video and they have the power to be highly valuable datasets. The problem is not just the vastness, but also the depth of the content. Yeh yeh tell me something new!
Imagine you could immerse yourself in the content via an interactive environment and step inside large data sets. Imagine too the data and visualisations appeared at your own pace, allowing content to slow down or speed up.
That is exactly what a new European Union (EU) tool is being designed to do.
The CEEDS project – Collective Experience of Empathic Data Systems – is tasked with developing integrated technologies to support human experience, analysis and understanding of very large datasets. The project researchers have built an Experience Induction Machine that uses virtual reality. It sounds like science fiction, but a real physical thing exists at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.
The machine sensors will allow information to be presented to the user according to the way the user interacts and interrogates the data. This is based on the user’s eye movements, heart rate, and other gestures. This tool knows when the user is tired or feeling overloaded with information and will adjust content and visualisations. Conversely, and I presume, it knows when the user is ‘on a roll’ and speed up.
There has already been some success in use from the neuroscience community with the project BrainX. Large complex datasets have been offered visual and sound displays giving direction to potentially more interesting ways to explore the brain for them.
The potential applications from the CEED tool seem endless. Basically anywhere or anything where there are huge amounts of complex data. Jonathan Freeman, the coordinator of CEED, sees potential immediately for the oil prospecting industry but there are diverse opportunities in shopping, libraries, museums and education.
If you would like some further information on the CEED work then this TedX talk by Paul Verschure, a CEED scientific coordinator, on the CEED work and the hypothesis generator is interesting.
CEEDs is a large project with 16 partners in nine countries (Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK). It takes a multi-country approach in order to optimise the human understanding of big data – you need the right people and and a bucket load of money.
It sounds like Star Trek technology but in my lifetime I hope to see it in libraries and for someone like me to be using it.
Joanna Ptolomey is a freelance information specialist who specializes in how people/organisation/communities find, use, share and manage information in health. In particular, developing technology platforms, via aliss.org, as well as facilitating and supporting the journey of change, developing supporting educational material.