Here are some übergadgetries that may facilitate the visualization and manipulation of complex data sets while simultaneously fostering more meaningful collaborations. That is, of course, if your office can afford their steep price tags and have the space in the studio to put them in.
The TouchTable is “an easy to use display device that detects the location and movement of users’ hands on its surface to dynamically change a projected image in real-time.” And while standing with the design team, perhaps even with the clients, everyone can interact with the screen with simple, intuitive gestures.
So imagine a shoal of hands and fingers recontouring swales and berms, rearranging town centers and Olympic venues, erasing entire neighborhoods with the fanatical zeal of a developer, and even plotting out evacuation routes during times of natural disasters.
With gentle pressures and soft caresses.
But for something that's immersive, try a CAVE, such as the one in the Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois Chicago. As the name somewhat implies, the CAVE is a “surround-screen, surround-sound, projection-based virtual reality (VR) system. The illusion of immersion is created by projecting 3D computer graphics into a 10'x10'x9' cube composed of display screens that completely surround the viewer. It is coupled with head and hand tracking systems to produce the correct stereo perspective and to isolate the position and orientation of a 3D input device.”
If you like, have a look at this landscape architecture thesis in which a CAVE was used to design and code a virtual landscape of an Australian Aboriginal creation narrative.
For something that's completely immersive, try the Cube at the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign. “The viewer/subject in the Cube enjoys a completely untethered visualization experience. A twenty-four sensor wireless Ascension MotionStar tracking system transmits 6DOF information from the subject. Active stereo is viewed through a Stereographics LCD shutter-glass system. Spatialized sonification is afforded each subject through head-related transfer function-generated sound, based on information from the Motionstar system.”
Anyone drooling yet?
“Additional data gathering/presenting devices, such as hand-held wireless computers, wireless microphones and wireless cameras can be incorporated in an individual experimenter's research.”
So are you getting the image of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice, conjuring monumental earth-moving tricks, re-knotting the floodgates of New York to relieve itself of its teeming masses, coaxing the sea to perform arabesque self-similar geogenesis, or maybe divining intercontinental migrating wave gardens from the plains of Illinois just as Paul Dukas' score begins its final tempest? Or perhaps he's bewitching an army of guerrilla gardeners to haunt the urban hinterlands, or maybe just presiding over the future Panoptic Arcade? Or like some zoning board urbicidal maniac, rampaging through historic city centers, ethnic enclaves, squatter cities, and urban Edens?