So 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? šŸ™‚ 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 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.