Microsoft Releases GeoFlow 3D Visualization Tech for Excel
New software with roots in Microsoft Research's WorldWide Telescope project adds a touch of interactive 3D flair to geographic data.Microsoft is giving Excel users a new way to explore data: GeoFlow. The technology, which sprang from a stargazing project at Microsoft Research, is capable of generating animated 3D visualizations on a globe or map powered by Bing Maps. GeoFlow allows data analysts to embark on eye-catching flyovers and flythroughs, where data points can sprout out from the landscape like skyscrapers. Not only does it provide a flashy alternative to 2D charts and graphs, GeoFlow can help users gain valuable new perspectives on business data, according to the company. "GeoFlow adds to the existing self-service business intelligence capabilities in Excel 2013, such as Microsoft Data Explorer Preview and Power View, to help discover and visualize large amounts of data, from Twitter traffic to sales performance to population data in cities around the world," wrote Microsoft Office product marketing manager Ari Schorr in a company blog post. The Excel add-in's data-mapping capabilities allow Excel users to plot more than a million rows of data from a workbook. Available visualizations include columns, bubbles and heat maps. It supports annotations, viewing changes over time and virtual tours, which provided guided playback of animated visualizations.
GeoFlow origins trace back to Microsoft Research's WorldWide Telescope (WWT) project. WWT is a virtual observatory, of sorts, that allows astronomy buffs to seamlessly pan and zoom across terabytes of astronomical data and enjoy distortion-less visuals.