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News We Love: Smart Objects Come to Life and Big Data Changes the Way We Study Hearts, Use Words

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From big data to interactive design, here are the stories that caught our eye this week.

Image via BBC

Doctors Use Big Data For New Heart Study


Big data helping disease? We dig it. A new study at the Medical Research Council’s Clinical Sciences Centre at Hammersmith Hospital in London is taking advantage of new technology and big data storage. There, doctors are scanning detailed 3D videos of 1,600 patients’ hearts to identify the correlation between patients’ genes and heart disease.

The “digital” hearts will provide a more detailed bank of information to study, allowing researchers to explore each heart and compare them to each other. “There are often subtle signs of early disease that are really difficult to pick up even if you know what to look for. A computer is very sensitive to picking up subtle signs of a disease before they become a problem,” says researcher Dr. Declan O’Regan. Read more.

Can Big Data Change the Way We Use Words? A Linguist Thinks So

Dictionary_through_lensFree speech and the use of particular words in our language are a constant debate online, particularly as culture evolves. How do we know when a term has become offensive, outdated, or that the meaning has evolved? Linguistics expert Geoffrey Nunberg, an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Information, says big data may be able to tell us.

By combing newspaper data, one can track the use of a word—as well as its related adjectives—to find out if it is being used positively, negatively, or in another type of cultural context. Read more about how his research swayed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to revoke the Washington Redskins trademark on the use of the word “redskins.”

Watch Biometric Data Come to Life in an Art Gallery

Want to see data and design come to life before your eyes? Playful Self is a new exhibition at the Dublin Science Gallery that does just that. The installation shows what the world would be like if smart objects reflected our biometric data. See a bowl of sugar mimic your breath rate or a tea bag move to the beat of your heart. As data, tech, and interactivity continue to converge, this type of interaction with everyday objects is likely to move outside the gallery. Read more here.

Want more? Download our new e-book: How to Use Data Visualization to Win Over Your Audience