Data Visualization

A human brain can process an entire image in 13 milliseconds (i.e. it can process  around 10 full images in 1 second) – MIT research

Humans are the only species that have a strong cognitive ability for perception and reasoning. It goes without saying the old adage “A picture is equivalent to thousand wordsholds true when it comes to interpreting visual information.

Human brain spends majority of time in image processing, pattern recognition, pattern matching and analyzing with past experience and thoughts. The tiny little grey matter is capable of processing images 60K times faster than textual information.

Data visualization is making big impact in BI and Analytics space. One can see the popularity of tools such as Tableau, Spotfire and Qlikview to see this in action, which clearly indicates that the future of data representation will be only pictorial in nature.

Here is a simple image available and even without setting a context, it is very easy to interpret several key metrics regarding pollution levels across the globe. Some points that immediately come to mind are

  • Asia and middle east are worst affected due to pollution
  • African continent does not see much activity due to lack of industrialization
  • South India is relatively better off compared to North India
  • Eastern half of China is severely affected
  • All industrial economies do not face pollution threat.

This is due to two factors, the first being brains capability to process this image at lightning speed and second is the inherent cognitive ability to connect with facts and figures that aid in perception.

Data Visualization is a vast research area that is evolving and will see many changes in time to come.