Demonstrating the transformation of data

Jamie Stevenson
London 51° 30' 23.112" N, -0° 7' 37.956" E" E

Update: We are proud to report that HERE was awarded the 2016 VR Business Award at the VR NOW Award Show on November 16th 2016.  The award was for our next generation automotive services VR project, shown at the Paris Motor Show this year.  It celebrates “the best business use of virtual reality, demonstrating the marketing or business power of VR”.

At HERE, we are quick to espouse the value of data, and how the automotive industry will become more reliant upon data-driven services to advance and improve everything from traffic to maps. How, though, can the value of data really be demonstrated?

At the Paris Motor Show, HERE offered a demonstration to help people experience how the data it is collecting from different automakers is used and transformed into valuable insights. Using Virtual Reality (VR), the demo transformed the collection of data into a simple, compelling story.

We spoke with Ruggero Baracco, a visual designer in the automotive team at HERE, who worked on turning this data into something that could be experienced.

“Now that we can gather data from competing auto makers, we wanted to show how this data is collected from cars, how it’s transformed and how it can then be used to create a better driving experience. We’re trying to narrate the kind of data used, and make the abstract accessible.”

Delivering the data

The data, recorded over one month in Germany, is brought to life using VR. Placing the user in a virtually recreated Frankfurt, the demo allows people to quite literally have their head in the cloud and look at where the data is going, or move through the city and see how the data is being collected. Ruggero tells us more about what exactly is on show:

“During the demo we are showing how real-time data is used in four main services – HERE Real-Time Traffic, HERE Hazard Warnings, HERE Road Signs and HERE On-Street Parking. The user can see spotlights in the city, each of which will show where data is being collected for each of these different services, and shows how it’s collected, where it goes, and how it’s used.”

“We want to show attendees at the show, both consumers and other auto makers, what is now possible with the data we have access to.”

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Discussing how the data actually appears to the user, Ruggero notes the difficulties of creating the VR experience which had to be overcome – in-particular, motion sickness. However, he also touches upon the beauty of such a demonstration. He says:

“The demo can actually be overwhelming because it’s so immersive. Using a 3D model, the user can see the unprocessed data coming from ground level, and then rising into the HERE cloud. We then show how this unprocessed data is transformed in the cloud into something clear and really quite beautiful.”

This data then feeds into each of the services, for example, you can see that when there is traffic congestion, data is collected by the sensors of approaching cars and sent to the HERE cloud, where it transformed and delivered via HERE Real-Time Traffic, quickly notifying vehicles of the issue and suggesting alternative routes.

In-car experience

Ruggero also stresses how this demo illustrates the potential use-cases for autonomous features. He adds: “Take HERE Road Signs, for example: sensor data collected can be transformed and distributed, so that vehicles are updated with any potential changes to speed limits – particularly useful when using adaptive cruise control.”

The demo shows how all this data is constantly collected and used, to empower a better driving experience. It also allows the user to experience the benefits from within the car itself. Ruggero explains:

“The in-car simulator lets the user jump into what I call the ‘glass car’, because you can see in all directions. You can then see how your data is being collected from within the vehicle, which service is being used and how it’s being distributed to all the drivers around.”

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When discussing the challenges of bringing this data to life, Ruggero explains:

“As someone who has primarily worked as an interface designer, working in 3D is very unique. I don’t think any company in the world has exact guidelines on how to develop this type of experience, so there was a great deal of testing involved to get it right.”

He adds, “Making a 360-degree image that has so much going on around it at all times was also very challenging, as it needed to be constantly updating, frame-by-frame.”

Ruggero also explains how the modelling techniques were also very different from what he was used to, and stresses the importance of having a large team to work together and deliver on the project.

Goals, goals goals

When asked what he hoped to achieve with the project, Ruggero said:

“We didn’t want to make a sci-fi, videogame experience. We wanted to give users the scope to see how data is collected and used in a simple, straightforward way. This is a complicated subject, and I hope that this demo made it immersive and easily understandable – providing a clear visualization of where this data goes.”

Did you check out the demo at Mondial? Let us know in the comments below.

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Topics: Virtual Reality, Automotive, Connected cars, Features, HERE at Mondial, Open Location Platform, Editor's picks

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