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Nike+ and YesYesNo

GPS-enabled experiments visualize daily jog data in 3-D

by Adrienne So in Tech on 22 April 2011

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Potential Prefontaines aside, most who run would be hard-pressed to find any grace or beauty in our daily jogs. And yet that's exactly what Nike+'s latest collaboration with interactive design firm YesYesNo accomplishes. Over two stunningly beautiful days on Nike's campus in Beaverton, Oregon, YesYesNo collected data from several runs (mine included), plotting them in a three-dimensional scale. The graphs incorporated speed, distance and acceleration, but also color and texture.

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YesYesNo's projects range in size from the very large (i.e. the size of a building) to the very small. For example, the EyeWriter Initiative—in conjunction with the Graffiti Research Lab—tracks the movements of an eyeball in order to splash huge swathes of color and shape across buildings yards away. In this case, the whole of Nike's campus was to be our canvas.

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“Imagine you were going to go on a run with a giant paintbrush strapped to your back,” YesYesNo co-founder Zachary Lieberman tried to explain as we prepared to start our run. Strapping on GPS-enabled sportwatches, we went on brisk jogs around the campus.

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Once back (and showered), Lieberman and cofounder Theo Watson plugged in the data from our watches into computers. Once the data loaded, we were able to manipulate the color, texture and size of the images and rotate them on a 3-D axis. After saving the final result, we could do anything with the graphic created—print it on posterboard, or even laser-etch it on the top of a shoebox.

While the project is a long way away from commercial application (when we asked Nike+ about it, they said that that conversation hadn't even started yet), “The idea is that you take these tools back to your own cities and start collecting data wherever you are,” said Lieberman, the self-described "nerd artist." If getting healthier isn't enough of an incentive to stick to your daily jogs, perhaps creating artwork out of your efforts will be.

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