Category Archives: Bert Balcaen

Final version of GPS visualization project for the data workshop

Video of the final version:

A walk in Barcelona. Visualization of GPS data. from Bert Balcaen on Vimeo.

Here are some notes on how I got there.

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My favorite computer vision project

My all-time favorite computer vision project is Text Rain by Camille Utterback & Romy Achituv. Hard to believe that this was done in 1999, long before the Kinect made this much easier.

It was created at ITP, and when I had the chance to spend some time there I did small hommage to this installation. This version uses a Kinect and Box2D. Creative Applications has a nice tutorial on how to do this in Processing.

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Face recognition

The Viola-Jones algorithm is one of most common computer vision techniques to detect faces. Greg Borenstein did a nice interview with Adam Harvey where they talk about the underlying assumptions in the technique. Everything is explained clearly, so it’s great if you want to learn a little more about what happens behind the scenes.

Harvey did some interesting work on how we can circumvent face detection using makeup and hairstyles.

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Progress on GPS visualization project for the data workshop

See: data workshop

I wanted to get a feeling for the data so I started off by creating a quick and dirty Processing sketch that visualizes the location data recorded with AntiMap. I used Unfolding Maps, a very complete and well-made library for using maps inside Processing. Here is a screenshot.

That felt very static, and the core of my concept is how walking brings the city to life. I wanted to see how it would look like if I animated the trail, showing only a part of it. I also cleaned up the code a bit so it would be a bit easier to work with. This is the result:

Visualization of GPS data, iteration 1 from Bert Balcaen on Vimeo.

It draws a circle for each location. The circles grow and gradually become more transparent. It’s simple but interesting: it brings the data to life.

Cristobal suggested to use the map colors for the trail. I really like that idea, so I thought that would be a good next step. Here’s a video:

Visualization of GPS data, iteration 2 from Bert Balcaen on Vimeo.

However, at the moment I’m stuck on how to pick the right colors. The Unfolding library uses the GLGraphics for drawing maps, making the whole thing fast by using OpenGL. It also makes some basic things more complicated. For example: it seems that the get() function to find a color’s pixel doesn’t work as it should. I think some sort of offset is applied.

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Project plan GPS visualization project for the data workshop

Core of the idea

  • Walking brings the city alive. The piece will visualize data from walks and runs.
  • We all create our own version of the city. The visualization will not include a typical map – it will show how we create Barcelona with our walks. People watching the piece might be able to recognize neighbourhoods from the patterns generated by the walks.
  • I will focus on how walking is an act that exists only in the moment. The route will not be shown in its entirety.
  • The visualization of the location trail will use the standard map colors. This can help people to guess where to walker is, and will also reveal something about the qualities of the space used during the walk: main roads, sidewalks, buildings, parcs, …
  • Each GPS record is visualized as a line. Length is inversely related to speed. Short lines = fast. Long = slow. Direction of the line correspond to the compass.
  • Add basic info display with speed etc.

Phase 2: multiple routes

  • Check with running file, see if it’s different enough.

Phase 3: POI data

  • POI data is displayed along the route. The amount of POI’s displayed depends on the speed in a segment of a route. Slow sections have more POI’s.
  • POI’s popup with name when passing by, and disappear when moving further.
  • Data sources for POI’s: Foursquare.
  • Add street names to info display.
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