I promised to start profiling more innovative, boundary-pushing Web tools on R/WW. The problem with this strategy is that a lot of innovative tools are hard to grok - which means more work for me. What have I gotten myself into? :-) Recently Thomas Bate of British data visualisation company Visokio contacted me, to tell me about his company's product Omniscope. It's essentially a data filtering and manipulation tool for the desktop (Java-based), but has some excellent Web integration too. They also have a product called FeatureFinder, used for creating data-driven Flash files to embed in websites.So
So why is OmniScope special? For one thing it has advanced structured data capabilities, which may have implications in Structured Blogging and may even be an alternative to RDF (yikes, don't tell Tim Berners-Lee that!). Thomas explained that Omniscope takes the most commonly-used structured data functionality of MS Office (Access, Excel, PowerPoint) and "adds data visualisation and an Adobe Acrobat portable file dimension." In other words, instead of manipulating your data in an Excel spreadsheet - which a lot of us do - you can use Omniscope to manipulate your data. The benefit is that it can also be integrated into web services and websites.
To see Omniscope in action, I downloaded the Omniscope 2.0 app and then went to the Demo page. I clicked on 'Mobile Phones' and was able to easily play around with the data there. Indeed it would be a great way to sort and filter mobile phone data on a phone retailer's website.
Manipulating mobile phone data with Omniscope
A good example of Visokio's technology in current use is on the London Stock Exchange website, which uses Omniscope to publish company and member data.
London Stock Exchange data on Omniscope
Thomas Bate also told me about the structured blogging and 'datacasting' implications of Omniscope, which I will have to leave for another post - as it gets complicated! But here is Thomas' final word about why Omniscope is potentially highly innovative in the Web world:
"We really believe that a scaleable desktop viewer/container for portable structured data that anyone can use (with no SQL or coding) will be the unsung hero and key enabler of the accelerating on-demand or Read/Write Web trend."
I can attest that Omniscope is easy to use and its visual and colorful interface for manipulating data is very compelling. I can see a great many uses for this on any data-driven website. In fact I'd love to see it in action on one of the big e-commerce sites like Amazon or eBay!
With so much data on the Web these days, we need tools to easily filter and sort that data - and personalize it. Omniscope seems like a big step forward in making that kind of data manipulation available on the Web.