Monday, November 8, 2010

Why Do You Want Photorealistic Charts?

From: Creating 3D Chart  in Papervision 3D

A thesis of this site is that those six Bloomberg screens that the aging hedge fund dude stares at will soon become a scenario of a sunset industry.

The Wii/Kinect generation will perform very similar functions but the kids will interact with the numbers in the mileau of an evolved First Person Shooter (FPS).

Instead of numbers flashing there will be flows and patterns and particle physics and more.

So, of course, there will be anti-aliaising, smooth shading and high frame rates per second.

But do you really need shadows, day light and photo realism when you are doing mere data analysis?


Look at the charts above. Can you tell if the the size of the blob is because it is bigger or because it is closer? Can you tell if the current position of the elements is as it was in the early morning or in late afternoon? Can you tell if the object is hot or cold?

No. Your ability to position and judge the momentum of these undetailed objects is quite inadequate. Even if you could zoom and rotate these scenes it's no easier. Determing the position of similar looking objects in 3D is not self-evident.

OK. Now imagine the same objects casting shadows on each other, basking in in the glow of the morning sun, each showing a gnarlyness that exposes its recent history and youth or age.

By applying the same visual cues that there are in the physical world to an abstract world of patterns of numbers, you as a human are able to access the panoply of pattern recognizing capalities available to the human brain.

The old guy sits looking at the Bloomberg screen. The worksheet displays "-12". The kid dances in front of holograms while nuanced objects perform the collective gyrations of the thousands of individuals. Who is more in tune to the world?

No matter whether you are showing a couple walking off into the sunset or the sunset of the trading day as it closes on a market of symbols: photorealism is of the essence. The spreadsheet becomes a "Virtual reality" becomes a tautology.