Data Visualization has transformed the way we work with data. Technologies like Data Science and Machine Learning have changed our perspective over data analytics. Initiatives like the Los Angeles Open Data have been helping developers to build great applications. We wanted to take it to the next step by building an immersive VR experience of visualizing data for Los Angeles County.
How we built it
We built it on Unity and Oculus Rift. We have also used the Los Angeles Open Data API and also various other sources for the data.
Challenges we ran into
We faced a lot of challenges starting from configuration problems in the Oculus Rift software and lots of Unity crashes. These issues were mostly technical and hindered our workflow at times. With the Oculus, our primary issue involved connection and calibration of the actual device with its sensors. For Unity, we had problems with its "Collaboration" functionality and spent hours trying to find workarounds to work on the same project.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
In the 36 hours of LAhacks, we designed a visualization tool that gives a new perspective in analyzing data from several metrics of LA county. We divided the county into ten primary regions and collected real-time data like property values, air quality, and crime rates from the Open Data API. To visualize this, we created a virtual environment with all the data represented in a map of LA county that the user is free to explore with the aid of Oculus Rift.
Given the short timespan and limited resources, we are most proud of actually completing the project. In spite of the configuration problems with the Oculus Rift headset and collaboration issues in Unity, we were able to build an interactive working environment.
What we learned
We learned the potential of public data and the enormous amount of applications we can build on top of it. We also have realized the importance of data visualization for educating people.
What's next for VR-Viz
Real Time data visualization has a huge scope in many industries specializes in complex data analytics. Our project focused on a limited number of sectors like Real estate, Air pollution, Homelessness, Crime rates, and Public Transit usage. Our vision is to incorporate real-time data from more sectors such as Traffic, Health Care, Education rates, Income distribution, etc.
We also would focus on developing our tool as an education platform for several applications.