The Next Big Thing
Richard Attias & Associates
Organized by Richard Attias & Associates, the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia brought together business and governmental leaders from across the globe to discuss economic strategies, trends, and opportunities for the coming century.
Schema designed and built a data-driven media installation to engage conference attendees and allow people to explore the three topics of the conference: Emerging Technology, Urbanization, and Health Frontiers.
Titled “The Next Big Thing,” the data visualization consisted of two large 6m x 3m LED media walls along with 32" touchscreen displaying challenges and opportunities we all face across the globe.
The installation consisted of two large media walls, facing each other on either side of a heavily trafficked hallway. Our first challenge was to come up with a design that would attract viewers from afar and then give them the tools to explore more deeply from close up. Based on these conditions, we decided to use the media walls to attract viewers from a distance and touchscreen panels for interactive exploration.
Our next step was to find a data source that would address the themes of the conference. Our goal was two-fold: Find data that best represented the future-oriented themes of the conference, and utilize the installation configuration to support the story.
We decided to visualize challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, using Wikipedia to source a list of keywords associated with global issues and emerging technologies, and Google search data to represent public interest in these keywords over time.
After prototyping multiple visualization formats to display the data, we converged on a treemap format to visualize the keywords on the media walls. One wall would focus on opportunities while the other would display the challenges. The visualization would cycle one month at a time over the course of last three years and display relative popularity of each keyword, color-coded by the three conference themes. The touchscreens facing each media wall would be used to show the keywords ranked by popularity over the entire three-year timeline and allow users to select specific months or keywords.
When the build was complete and tested, we flew to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for the installation. While the A/V crew installed the two media walls made up of 72 individual panels and the carpenter crew assembled the podiums to hold the touch screens, the Schema team tested the software ensuring that the screen resolution, colors, and touch interactions worked as expected.
The Future Investment Initiative conference is about encouraging a more positive future through economic investment. Schema’s “The Next Big Thing” installation visualized the tension between social issues and technological opportunities in the 21st century. Both visual impact and conceptual framing of the visualization drew lots of attention among world business and government leaders during the conference by placing them, literally, in the middle of that discussion.