Around the world, nearly 15,000 animal species are threatened with extinction. These are numbers that stagger the imagination, especially as more species routinely slip into total extinction, never to be seen again. But with digital media, it’s possible to hold huge quantities of data in the palm of your hand – and come to grips with the magnitude of the crisis.

Deep into the Animal Extinction is an interactive 3D data visualization project, designed to give a new perspective on the vast IUCN Red List of threatened species. Created by students Andrea Fasolo Rao, Riccardo Gioria, and Anna Nogarè for the Iuav University Communication Laboratory, it includes an interactive visualization, data sonification, and a companion mobile web app (located here). Recently, the team posted a video of their work, featured above.

Extinction web applicationBuilt in Processing, Animal Extinction generates 14,448 geometrical shapes within a virtual 3D space. Each shape represents an endangered animal species on the Red List.

The species are organized alphabetically along the X and Y axes, while their endangered status is expressed by the Z axis. The deeper you dive into the visualization, the more critically endangered the creatures you’ll find – from vulnerable to extinct in the wild. The team incorporated Leap Motion interaction into the project, so that users can fly through the space with one hand. The sonification component, which was recently featured on Cycling ‘74, is driven by the number of animal species the user is viewing.

A Mac demo of the project designed for the v2 tracking software is available for download here, and includes a pause gesture (closing your fist). The source code for the visualization can be found here.

Extinction Leap Motion application.

Alex Colgan is the senior director of marketing and developer community at Leap Motion. By transforming how we interact with technology, he believes we can make our world feel more human.

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