The Future of User Interfaces: Data Visualization by @RWW

Planetary was launched by San Francisco startup Bloom Studio earlier this month. The company calls it “the first of a new type of visual discovery app” and promises more such apps in the coming months. They plan to use this type of visualization to “let you explore and participate in social networks, video streaming services, and location-based applications in a whole new way!”

What’s different about Planetary is that it doesn’t depend on traditional software controls and design patterns – such as a play button, scrolling down a list of tracks, even flipping through album covers. Instead, the app is controlled by the data visualizations.

In a recent UgoTrade interview, futurist and author Bruce Sterling said of Planetary:

“The thing I consider significant about that remarkable piece of Bloom software is that it uses information visualization as a new breed of control interface. That’s not just fancy re-skinning of the same old music-machine pushbuttons. That whole graphic shebang is generated in real-time on the fly. And you can run code with that, play music, do media with it! An advance like that is important.”
(emphasis ours)

A Wired review of the app notes that it turns a data set – in this case music – into “tactile and dynamic visual objects.”

Imagine those same techniques being used for data from social networking, location, media and real-world objects (the Internet of Things). That’s an intriguing development and I’m curious to see what other apps Bloom releases over the course of this year.

It’s not just about Minority Report and Hackers. At their core, all major OSs still function on interfaces developed in the time of DOS and command line prompts. Sure, Macs flashy interface is intuitive, but you can’t say it leverages recent technology and data interface techniques very creatively.

We’ve seen that data portability has reshaped the Internet. Now it’s time to reshape how we interact with our PCs.

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