I am a long time data visualisation geek and I keep an eye on R&D in the field. A TED video of Pranav Mistry has recently impressed me with his vision for how we will be soon able to interact with data in the physical world. The video is available to watch on YouTube:
I have also kept a copy in Quicktime that you can download here (large file: 30Mb).
It's a 15 minute presentation so you'll need a little patience. It's worth it as he demonstrates his research that makes it possible to merge the virtual world into the physical. Examples shown include:
- Projecting and interacting with data on any surface in your physical environment; your hand, a wall, a blank bit of paper.
- Transferring data in your physical environment into the virtual; grabbing a printed picture of a pie chart, taking a picture just by gesturing it.
- Superimposing electronic data onto a book or newspaper that you are reading.
Pranav is a researcher in the Fluid Interfaces Group at MIT's Media Lab.