Driving a Porsche is incredible. I don't even care about cars, and the one time a friend let me drive his, I felt like I was racing through the streets on the back of a growling tiger. And that was just taking it up to 30 miles an hour.
The newest project from the data art studio Onformative attempts to capture that feeling. The Porsche Blackbox website visualizes the data of real Porsche drivers in a kinetic explosion of neon particles and airstreams streaking past a GTS. Then you hit the space bar, and you can experience a Porsche 911 in bullet-time.
In movie terms? It feels like The Matrix meets Drive. Data-wise, though, what Onformative is visualizing here is real driving data recorded by Porsche owners using the Porsche GTS Routers app. The app lets drivers both create and share cool, winding driving routes that emphasize the "growling tiger" feeling I talked about earlier.
By taking data about direction and acceleration from the Porsche GTS community, Onformative was able to create an "excitement graph" of each course. The designers then used this graph to generate particle effects around a 360-degree 3-D model of a Porsche 911. As the experience becomes more intense, the car's outline becomes clearer. At the same time, the site generates an adaptive soundscape, whose tones fluctuate to reflect the energy and emotion of the route.
According to Onformative cofounder Cedric Kiefer, the Porsche Blackbox's neon-streaked look and bullet-time effects didn't come from pop culture, but from the cinematic language of car commercials. "It plays with light and streams of particles to visualize the shape of the car without actually showing it, as often seen in windtunnel test facilities," he explains.