Kinetica Is A New System That Lets You Play With Data With Your Fingers

If you’ve ever wanted to chop data up into separate little piles, here’s your chance. Using a proof-of-concept called Kinetica, Ph.D. students at CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute have created a system that lets you slide certain subsets of data out of a chart, order data along arbitrary lines, and even create charts and graphs with a quick swipe.

The app, which runs on the iPad, allows you to import a data set and then slide across it to separate out, say, outliers or specific values. You can automatically sort things along hand-drawn curves and even create multiple chart styles out of the same data.

Data points appear as magnetic dots that change color depending on another value. For example, you can separate the dots out by a certain statistic (allowing you to sort a list of cars by color or a list of foods by sugar content) and order them within those categories.

“The interactions are intuitive, so people quickly figure out how to explore the data with minimal training,” said Jeffrey Rzeszotarski, one of the creators. “Web browsing and book reading are among the most popular uses for tablet computers, at least in part, because the tools available for many apps simply aren’t good enough. A mouse might be superior when you’re working with a desktop computer, but tablets can accommodate much more natural gestures and apps need to play to that strength.”

The tool isn’t yet available but you can sign up to try it when it’s released after the 29th.