Here's one of those possibilities: Use 3D printing to present big data. I recall reading some months ago about the potential for 3D printing to give the blind ways to "see" things like stars through touch. More recently, the ability for the blind to get a tactile feel for picture books was highlighted by NPR.
The idea of 3D presentation of big data isn't all that new, but with costs of 3D printers coming down and manufacturers building in new capabilities, we're moving toward a time when a data scientist can more easily deliver results in more meaningful ways that people can see and touch.
This week, the MIT Technology Review focused on some of the work being done in presenting big data in new ways, again utilizing 3D printing. In "How 3-D Printing is Revolutionizing the Display of Big Data" MIT researchers discussed how a 3D rendering of the school's Cambridge, Mass., campus allowed people to see on an interactive, color-coded, 3D map how tall the school's buildings are.
However, the MIT application described by MIT Lincoln Lab's Zachary Weber and Vijay Gadepally that struck me as having the greater commercial appeal was one that mapped out the patterns of Twitter subjects across campus. Tracking Twitter posts with geolocation illustrated which topics were being discussed in different sections of the campus.
Carry that idea into the corporate world, and a data scientist could show a marketing team on a 3D map where in a downtown area they should focus specific promotions with a view of the landscape. Or a transportation company could spot trouble spots based on GPS-enabled tracking systems.
What uses can you envision for 3D printing in your analytics group?