Are You Ready for Some Football Visualizations?

09.14.2012 |

Like most fantasy football team general managers, I’m looking for every possible advantage, including checking out this year’s NFL games to figure out how the Baltimore Ravens defense performed against the Cincinnati Bengals or whether New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning can move the ball through the air against division rivals like the Dallas Cowboys.

Christopher Healey's visualizations provide a quick glimpse of trends in everything from football to elections to sentiments on Twitter.

Rather than scroll through seemingly endless line-by-line play-by-play narrative (scroll to page 9 of the PDF), there’s an online resource that allows you to check out a visual representation of what happened in every NFL game last season as well as week one of the 2012-13 season.

NC State computer scientist Christopher Healey and his students developed the NFL visualization tool that gives users a quick glimpse of bigger trends, while also allowing for a detailed picture of individual plays, depending on how deeply you want to wander in the football weeds.

Healey and his students use the best research into human visual perception to create the colors, shapes and patterns that accurately and rapidly translate complicated data. The goal, he says, is to use visualizations to portray complex and multidimensional sets of data – like play-by-play descriptions.

The NFL aided the project, Healey adds, by allowing use of its play-by-play data. The NFL even got into the visualization business.

Healey and his students also work on election visualizations to show quick election-result representations using, of course, red and blue for Republicans and Democrats, respectively.

They also recently started a Twitter sentiment visualization, which can show how Twitter users are feeling about everything from the health care debate to NC State’s research on remote-controlled cockroaches.

Stay tuned to The Abstract for more on Healey’s visualization work after the Nov. 6 elections.



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