Race For Data: experience data visualization in a fun way
Posted On 30/05/2018
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
When building a business, you want to get things done. Building a product feature. Closing a new deal. Launching a marketing campaign. We’re all working from deadline to deadline. “Yessss, I crossed 5 items off my to-do list! Today was a good day.” This might sound familiar?
Of course, the day-to-day is crucial. Without a clear structure and a getting-things-done mentality, it’s hard to grow a serious business. But sometimes, you need to take a step back from your routines & usual workflow. If you want to innovate & stand out, it’s key to let your creativity run loose, every once in a while.
New ideas don’t happen when you’re stressing out about meeting a deadline. Or when you’re drowning in your own to-do list. They happen when you finally decide to put that laptop aside for a moment. “Let’s take a break guys, tomorrow is another day.”
At Cumul.io, we believe in the power of side projects. On the one hand, it’s motivating to our employees to work on something new, fun, which might be slightly out of their comfort zone. On the other hand, it gives a refreshing twist to our product, and lets us approach it from another point of view.
Following the work-play philosophy, we wanted to launch a side project that shows how entertaining data visualization can be. And just like that, Race for Data was born.
Race for Data: a fun & sporty way to activate trade show visitors
When you’re visiting booths at a trade show, you’ll expect to hear sales pitches everywhere. Instead of doing a standard pitch or demo of our product, we wanted to grab the visitor’s attention, while showing the strength of our platform at the same time. Turns out that 2 bikes and a dashboard will do the trick.
The idea of Race for Data is that 2 people step on the bikes and race against each other for 1 minute. While giving all their energy, they can follow the course of the race in front of them in a real-time dashboard. Who’s going fastest, who has cycled the farthest, and how are you going to rank among all participants if you can keep up your speed?
This project allows us to tell our story in a different way. Even more, to let our product tell the story itself. In that way, customers or prospects can really engage with the Cumul.io platform right from the start, and get introduced to data visualization in a fun and dynamic way.
The technical set-up: connecting sensor data to integrated dashboards
We created a separate game application in Angular 5. It consists of 3 parts:
Actual game, containing real-time race dashboards
After-game stats, displaying the top 15 racers & comparisons across demographics
So, needless to say, we needed to include a number of dashboards in the game app. We first designed all the dashboards in Cumul.io itself. Afterwards, by using Cumul.io’s integration features, we could easily embed the dashboards inside the game app itself, to make the experience as seamless as possible.
As mentioned, the dashboards display live data during the race game. To make sure this process runs smoothly, we assembled the necessary data in 1 PostgreSQL database, which we connected to Cumul.io in real-time.
To capture cycling data like speed, distance,… we installed sensors on the bikes. Data captured by the sensors is pushed every 0.5 seconds directly into the database.
Demographic data were captured through a small form in the Race for Data application. People could register to participate, while sharing their age, gender, job details,… We automatically push that information into the same database, linking the demographic data to the correct bike session.
As a ‘souvenir’, we sent a personal dashboard to each participant after the race, in which he or she could only see his or her own performance. This was quite simple to set up with the help of our integration component. We simply created 1 dashboard and filtered it on the unique ID of each participant.
Which data is captured and visualized?
We want to give you a visual insight into the stats we’re collecting and displaying, instead of just giving you a list of measurements. So let’s run through a couple of dashboards included in the game.
This dashboard allows 2 players to compare their performance against each other in terms of speed, distance and ‘perseverance’ (could they easily keep tempo?). It also gives you an insight into your position against all other participants in the event.
Top 15 players
Participants are definitely enjoying the element of competition in the game. That’s why this dashboard was one of the most popular ones to be viewed. It shows the top 15 players in maximum speed and total distance covered. People even came back to beat the records, and see their name in the top 15!
Insights into demographic trends
Are marketers faster than engineers? Can men cycle more distance than women in 1 minute? Which industries cycled the most during the event? How large is the difference between average & max speed, across different demographic groups? We made a couple of dashboards to compare stats across job roles, industry, age groups, and gender.
Want to race with us?
Do you want to give our race a try? Join us at one of our next events, we’d be happy to challenge you!