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Dry numbers in damp, wiggly form

Scales makes the world of international finance accessible by displaying dry numbers in fish form.  Weak currencies are content to swim with the school in the pond, while stronger currencies race each other upstream. Users can add or remove fish throughout the simulation to see how they compare. - Zoe Fraade-Blanar

Download version for Mac
Download version for PC
Check it out online!

Lisa Strausfeld of Pentagram encourages designers to "infuse design with information", instead of approaching data visualization the other way around.
International finance can be intimidating and scary. Fish are adorable and cute. The concept of Scales is to harness my fear of numbers by basing it in a visual metaphor I am more comfortable with. Users monitor international exchange rates in a way that is that is calming, aesthetic, and non-threatening.

Technical Notes
Scales uses a number of nature simulation techniques to give a natural, welcoming feel. The fish themselves are made of undulating sine waves. Their motion follows “flocking” rules with border-detection while in the pond, but uses “path following” algorithms while attempting to get upstream. The waterfalls are made from particle systems to give the most realistic effect possible. The steam at the bottom of each waterfall is Perlin noise. The values for each fish are pulled from a financial rss feed that is updated every 6 hours. The interface is rendered in Processing using OpenGL.

Project Updates

Final project is done! - Final is done for Nature of Code. Check it out online here. Takes a little while to download. Go on. Give it a try.

New Visual interface designed - It looks like this (shown with a school of dollar bills). The actual graphics consist of two separate layers to give a three dimensional look, in addition to the particle systems simulating the waterfalls.

Early fish simulations - This is an implementation of the border-detect technique I'm using to keep the fish within the pond. When they get out of bounds, their acceleration vector (either x or y)is automatically transferred to the center of the pond.

Proof of concept - The idea that started it all. Zooming bills. Enjoy.

All content and graphics copyright Zoe Fraade-Blanar, 2009