Although the title of this post may sound a bit advanced or intimidating, fear not grasshopper, data visualization is actually quite simple. Using an outstanding program called Processing, we can read data through our computer’s serial port and then display it visually.
We’ll use a wiimote in this tutorial since they’re so many sensors to choose from and you can easily connect it to your pc and read data from it. If you’d like to graph another type of sensor, you’ll use the same methods but probably build your circuit differently. Learn about all sorts of sensors.
Processing is the program I use – It’s pretty easy to learn, uses the same interface as Arduino, and can render 2D and 3D visualizations with small amounts of code. Before you jump in head first, I suggest you check out their examples to familiarize yourself with the code.
1. The Code
Once your sensors are successfully transmitting to your serial port (learn how to send serial data), we can use that data to create a graph, thus creating a whole new perspective on our data. To get you started, we’ll first just graph one variable coming in from the serial port. The results should look basically like the image above.
2. Graphing Mulitple Sensors and Inputs
Similar to the single variable graph above, we now graph multiple values at the same time. It’s a bit more complicated since we have separate the variables. To learn more information about multivariable serial communication with arduino, check out the arduino site.
For non-arduino data visualization, check out some of these fantastic examples.
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