Communicating with Pics and Tech

The Interactive Commons (IC) endeavors to tackle some of society's greatest challenges by combining expertise. In other words, the things that you know in your unique discipline may provide some missing insight into the unique thing someone is doing in a seemingly unrelated area. And, to bridge different perspectives and sides of academia, we need some tools to help us communicate with each other. Enter visualization. 

When we can’t explain something easily, it is common to grab a cocktail napkin and a pen and draw a picture. But, today we have tools that let us take this even further. We can put on Microsoft HoloLenses to look at a picture together in three-dimensional mixed-reality--completely wirelessly! Or, we can plug in a data set to a 24-foot-long by 8-foot-wide visualization screen. Say you have neighborhood lead abatement data for the entire county? We can look at this information as a group. Or, we can convene multiple community partners around this data in its broader context and explore it together. In a world of endless data, we have remarkable tools that allow us to harness this information, contextualize it, and view it together.

In addition to hardware, the IC also is making available humans to help run this technology--dedicated computer programmers, 3D modelers and artists who serve as our technology translators and remove common barriers to entry.

You’ll hear from those folks on this blog, too. From Mark Griswold, who serves as director of the Interactive Commons in addition to his full time gig as director of MRI research, to Jeff Mlakar and Henry Eastman, the first computer programmers hired to work on Microsoft HoloLens at Case Western Reserve University. And, I’ll be chiming in as well. I’m Erin Henninger, executive director for the IC—I’ll be sharing the articles that inspire us, info that wows us, and periodic commentary on how things are panning out. So far so good, thanks to some incredible support from Case Western Reserve and amazing partners (ahem, thank you Microsoft). Working together, we can embrace new technology and inspire each other to think, and to see, beyond the possible.  

Erin Henninger