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March 16, 2007

Google Acquires Data Visualization Technology

Google collects a lot of data, but to make sense of it, they need proper tools to mine the data and to visualize the results.

Gapminder, a non-profit organization from Sweeden, wants to "make the data more accessible and easier to use for instant visual analysis." They developed a tool called Trendalyzer "that turns boring (...) statistics into attractive moving graphics" and used it to visualize the United Nations Common Database, that has a lot of information about almost all the countries in the world. The results is Gapminder World.

Googlers found about the organization last year, when Gapminder gave a very interesting presentation at Googleplex. After hosting their visualization tool on Google's servers for almost a year, Google decided to acquire the technology from Gapminder. "Gathering data and creating useful statistics is an arduous job that often goes unrecognized. We hope to provide the resources necessary to bring such work to its deserved wider audience by improving and expanding Trendalyzer and making it freely available to any and all users capable of thinking outside the X and Y axes," says Marissa Mayer.

Gapminder is also excited about this event: "Gapminder and Google share an enthusiasm for technology that makes data easily accessible and understandable to the world. Gapminder's Trendalyzer software unveils the beauty of statistics by converting boring numbers into enjoyable interactive animations. We believe that Google's acquisition of Trendalyzer will speed up the achievement of this noble goal. Trendalyzer's developers have left Gapminder to join Google in Mountain View, where Google intends to improve and scale up Trendalyzer, and make it freely available to those who seek access to statistics."

A better Google Trends, enhanced statistics for all Google services, or maybe a cool integration with Google Earth. How do you think they'll use Trendalyzer?

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