A personalised, interactive, never-before-seen look at your own body. What it’s made of. What it’s produced. And how you can count it all.
Our bodies are truly extraordinary. BBC Earth, the Beeb’s natural history brand, wanted an interactive website that could give people a data-driven look at their own amazing biological machines.
With the complexity of a human body at our disposal, we knew it would be vital to keep sight of the concept of quantified self. So we focused on the phrase: “Know yourself by the numbers.”
This would be our most personal project to date. So we needed to ask some personal questions.
We requested that users enter four number at the start of the visualization: age, gender, height and weight. This allowed us to visualize personalised data on a truly cellular level.
Have you ever wondered how many times you’ve blinked? How far your intestines could stretch? Or the amount of gas you’ve produced?
We wanted to harness a sense of childlike curiosity.
Which meant some interesting research… Like how to quantify the amount of gas you’ve produced (and, ahem, expelled) in your lifetime.
How would we measure this volume in a meaningful way? We toyed with the ideas of using zorbs, before settling on telephone boxes…
After deep-researching human biology and chemistry, we settled on our shortlist of themes.
For example, ‘Body Shop’ quantified the commercial value of our chemical make-up. While in ‘Body Builder’, we covered how much our bodies had grown and produced. Each of the mini-stories in these themes were shareable.
We’re always looking to put a witty, unexpected editorial spin on our data storytelling.
So for example, how many matchsticks could be made from the sulphur found in you? (Answer: millions.) And how many microbes are you carrying? (Answer: trillions.) In this piece, we even added the weight of our souls…
The design’s modular structure meant the visualization should shape-shift to work neatly on any device. And we used subtle animations to make the page feel very much alive.
We also brought in elements of the BBC’s Global Experience Language (GEL) guidelines to ensure this piece fitted seamlessly into the overall site.
You’ll find sources or footnotes on any vizualization we create – we want to let people explore our sources for themselves.
But as this was one of our most research-heavy pieces, we turbocharged the transparency, with info buttons on each module to allow users to see the sources and calculations.
We also provided a full methodology for anyone who really wants to dig into the detail.
To bring the story to a conclusion, we summarised with ‘My vital statistics’ where people could see their ‘Best ofs’.
How long their hair would’ve grown if left uncut in their lifetime. Or (shudder) their toenails. And the final price tag reflecting what their constituent body-bits could add up to.