Physical versions of pie and bar charts and a tapestry that represents human voices are attempts by designers to make data more accessible
With life saturated by screen-based information, designers are presenting information in more tangible ways. As part of the V&A’s recent Digital Design Weekend, several projects opted for low-tech ways of representing data.
Among these was Physical Charts, a project by Microsoft Research Cambridge for the Tenison Road community project that set out to encourage civic engagement with locally generated data, such as surveys on traffic and air quality. The result is a mechanical pie chart made from slices of sheet plastic attached to a central motor and bar chart constructed from motorised measuring tapes, both of which animate to display real-time data.
The intention, says project designer David Sweeney, was to create something easily legible, but with a sense of magic and theatre. “We wanted to find a way to communicate data back to the people generating it, but in a digestible way, so they were connected to it,” he says...