New use of Wii controller helps you swim through data

The ability of the Wii controller to sense our relative position and movement through space has created a gaming sensation. Here’s an example of using this same controller to interact with a 3D model, showing uncanny perspective.

The implications for how this interface could allow us to explore data are exhilarating. But what data? I have two examples:

Visual Thesaurus Anyone who has used the Visual Thesaurus knows what I mean when I talk about “swimming through data” (the video demo is embedded below). This interface translates all of the interconnectivity of a thesaurus into linked “nodes” that advance, recede and move out of our way as we dig deeper into the connections. One could conceivably move from node-to-node for hours, never reading the same word or phrase twice. And in such an experience, one would walk away understanding not only the meanings of words but how they are interrelated. This is invaluable.

Walk2Web The developers of this application show an appealing way to see how web sites are interconnected through their hyperlinks. In other words, a swim that had you diving off here, at this post, would lead you to both the Visual Thesaurus site and Walk2Web site. The journey would continue to the many sites from which these sites link. The interface shows summary information about each site along the trip, providing context and meaning to the interconnections. Again, you walk away understanding more about this “data set,” and learning a ton!

When Visual Thesaurus arrived on the scene many years ago, the concept was thrilling. The interface, with its enticing movement through two dimensions, was impressive. But how much better to involve the whole body — and a third dimension! — in the exploration of this network of interrelated concepts.

Do you have a favorite example of applications you could see more appealingly “swim-able” using this Wii controller and 3D visualization technology?