We were interested in understanding the reality of many issues across the globe. Looking at data sheets and Excel spreadsheets removes the personal connection to those affected by these conditions, so we wanted to design a more stimulating way of learning about the world.
What it does
Whirld allows us to display global data in a unique and direct way. It allows users to easily compare relevant data about every country on Earth and navigate the map in a novel and engaging way.
How we built it
Together we searched for data sets that related to important problems that impact every country. Then, using D3.js, we created an azimuthal projection of national borders on a 3D globe. We then referenced the data sets we found to create chloroplethes that captured the distribution of certain issues. Next, we used Leap.js to put the world at our fingertips. The Leap Motion Controller aims at not only informing users about the issues, but encouraging them to become involved as well.
Challenges I ran into
One of the largest challenges was handling all of the data and applying it to the globe model. We used a number of different sources from the United Nations online data repository (data.un.org), which allowed us to overlay important information on the globe. Another major challenge was integrating the Leap Motion controller in a way that would enhance the experience through gestures.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Combining Leap Motion and d3.js, which we have never used before, to create a unique data visualization experience.
What we learned
We learned a lot about D3.js and how to visualize and manipulate data from multiple sources, both internally and externally. We also learned the difficultly of combining multiple libraries to create a single coherent product.
What's next for Whirld
We hope to add more metrics in each category and design, in addition to creating more advanced gestures and user interaction with the Leap Motion Controller. We think this device has great potential to make people see and experience the world in a new way. Because we want this to inspire action as well as education, we hope to incorporate functionalities that can assist users in choosing where to travel, study, and donate to across the globe. By harnessing the power of big data and novel interfaces, Whirld can help us to feel more connected to the world.