web analytics

— urbantick

May 2011 Monthly archive

The guys at kogeto are experts for panoramic videos captured using the a 360 mirror lens. The current high end product, Lucy, is widely used in education and science. The company now bring out a mini version for the iPhone allowing for panoramic video capturing in stunning quality on the gadget of choice.

kogeto Dot
Image taken from mobiles-actus / The kogeto Dot 360 panoramic lens kit attached to the iPhone 4.

This is especially exciting since there were earlier on urbanTick some panoramic imaging articles using the 360 lens for normal sized cameras mainly for timeLapse projects like the London Small World. Back then we use the 360 VR.

The panoramic imaging stuff at large cale was definitely being introduced to a wider audience via the Google Street View and brought to people by the GOogle StreetCars. However they still use a number of cameras on the car roof, as doo most of the panoramic image capturing projects such as Nokia and some London Borroughs.

kogeto Dot
Image taken from designboom / The kogeto Dot 360 panoramic lens kit attached to the iPhone 4.

The real peoples gadgets were the GigaPans using the GigaPan platform to share the panoramic images. For moving into panoramic images there have been for a long time only very few, very specialised and expensive systems. Google tested it, but also Microsoft has some projects running in their research labs for it to be used for in-car navigation and driving directions. After the success of Google Street View on and off the streets, other companies set about to deliver the same as 360 panoramic videos. They asre mainly targeting tourist destinations.

Video by Christian Mazza / For the interactive version, ‘A walk through Soho in New York while they are filming Men in Black 3’, playing in the original video player please, please click HERE.

To have it not as a gadget fot he gadget and be able to shoot panoramic videos on the iPhone on the go it fantastic. This is really taking the technology a step further and making it accessible for a wider user group.

The Dot clips on directly to the iPhone 4 via a semi iPhone case and is ready to go. kogeto ships the lens together with a software that wil automatically unwrap the image and display it interactively on the iPhone screen so that you can pan around as you record. However, the lens of course also works with the normal camera app or any other timeLapse app for example. The unwrapping however has in those cases to be done in postproduction.

kogeto Dot
Image taken from mashkulture / The kogeto Dot 360 panoramic lens kit attached to the iPhone 4.

The product should be ready this summer at kogeto they are working hard at geting the stuff out. They are using KickStarter to fund the project and have been extremely successfull and already high above the targeted funding sum. However you can still becone one of the funders of the project and for $98 you will be the first to get a Dot for your beloved iPhone.

Video by kogeto / The promotion clip for the Dot.

Via MashKulture.net

Read More

A team of students from Berkley has taken on the project of mental mapping San Francisco. It has turned in to a really interesting piece of research about how people see the city and how they imagine the city.

Using Mental Maps is nothing new it goes way back to Lynch and Gould and White, but it has not been used for a while and in combination with digital tools it could have a sort of revival. The great aspect on this project ‘Visualizing Mental Maps of San Francisco‘ by Rachelle Annechino and Yo-Shang Cheng is how they allow room for the method to breath the uncertainty of its nature. Mental Mapping is not about accuracy and precision, or truth and objectivity and to combine this with GIS or mapmaking is a very difficult task for not to say impossible.

San Francisco - Corridors
Image taken from Visualizing Mental Maps of SF / San Francisco’s Deadzones and Corridors is a map depicting both where the city’s “corridors” or main drags are, the neighborhood names associated with them and a measure of “neighborhood-ness” throughout the city (the residential density metric). The map has three layers: a choropleth (heatmap) of residential density in red tones, areas zoned for commercial activity in blue and street segments with verified commercial activity in yellow..

The essential thing is to give the playfulness a meaning and find a balance for mapping it in GIS. With this project it is not achieved in the detail, but in the overal construction, how the different sections combine and the picture the presented result paints.

“I think of San Francisco as being a bunch of main streets in small towns, all smushed next to each other.”

The project is the team’s final master project at the School of Information at University of California in Berkley. The link to the final project presentation can be found HERE and the very detailed report is HERE.

The findings are presented in seven groups and you would probably expect more Kevin Lynch influence, but they firmly hold up their own topics. Which is great, it’s over fifty years in between, but still from a urban planning perspective the five groups defined by lynch should at least have been challenged.

Their topics are Orientation: Which way is North? It doesn’t always have to be at the top of the page. Re-orient or dis-orient yourself in San Francisco. Corridors: Where are the hearts of each neighborhood? Barriers: Is it really that close? It’s not always as simple as it looks getting from one neighborhood to another in San Francisco. Boundaries: What neighborhood are you in? According to whom? Storymaps: Take a tour of the city, guided by the thoughts of locals. Game: Ready, set, go. Invisible bike race! Gallery: Draw a map or a picture of your neighborhood, however you see the space.

San Francisco - Boundaries
Image taken from Visualizing Mental Maps of SF / Visualising Neighbourhood areas from different sources. Some of the boundaries are firm and bold, where as other can be fuzzy and blurred.

The different topics each address an aspect and the project combines the data collected through participants with additional information such as landuse and density as for the Corridors, but also with various sources such as Wikipedia, Zillow and Craglist for the Boundaries. This creates an interesting mix that manages to minimise the burden usually put on the Mental Maps in terms of expectations. They play a lot better in combination. Especially the sequence on boundaries and the changes over time on Wikipedia is really an interesting aspect of the boundary definition and naming discussion.

San Francisco - Sketches
Image taken from Visualizing Mental Maps of SF / A Mental Map sketch by Victoria F., one of the participants of the study. She has been living in San Francisco for 23 years.

There is a lot about the city that has be pulled out using somehow unconventional combinations of techniques and it offers great access to ‘local’ knowledge of the place.

Via Roomthily

Read More

AxisMaps offers a new online historic maps page to cover Londons past. It is a great resource overlaying about 30 maps dated between 1800 and 1900, on a digital current map based on open street map data. The service allows for interaction with to zoom in for great level of detail.

The producers of the service proposa a concept of space and place as a conceptual framework to understand and use the service. As they define it: “Space or “Which areas of Victorian London are most similar / different to each other (and how did that change over time)?” The 19th century was a dynamic time for London and its population and we wanted to let you explore that by the numbers. Organized by metropolitan works district, you can see how and where the population of London changed over 100 years. We’ve also included the locations of social institutions throughout London as their locations help us understand how the city tried to cope with the changing nature of its urban population.

axisMaps Landmark
Image taken from London Low Life / Image showing the London Zoo from the World’s Metropolis, or, Mighty London.

Place or “What was it like to be in Victorian London?” As London’s population was changing in the 19th century, the city itself was being reshaped. This map contains 3 different perspectives on the changing city. Historic base maps not only give you a top-down view of the city; they also allow you to see what aspects of the city cartographer’s felt were important enough to include on their maps. Original images let you see the important features of the city from a variety perspectives. Finally, the Tallis streetviews allow you to put yourself on a London street and look around.”

Iframe embeded from London Low Life / Click HERE for full version.

It is however not only about the maps, there is great additional information. This ranges from Street View to population data and also includes details of landmarks and infrastructure. The Street View is based on the maps and drawings produced during the 19th century by John Tallis. He was a publisher of maps in London and his company produced this very comprehensive Street frontage atlas. AxisMaps have now made this accessible via this online platform using pins on the map that correspond to digitised
scans. It is even possible to move around in the streetview and of course see both sides of the road.

axisMaps Population
Iframe embeded from London Low Life / Image showing the popuation of London around 1850.

With the additional information, the service covers population over the whole of the century and as well as population density and population change. In the infrastructure section the data details location and covers a range of types, such as prisons, universities, orphanages, work houses and lunatyc asylums. For most areas there are also additional documents such a s sketches and drawings to illustrate specific landmarks or institutions.

The platform provides a great experience of Victorian London and lets you explore many different aspects of a great city over a whole century. This interactive time-warp makes it a lot of fun and can become rather addictive. However it would be great if the information could be a bit more personal and engaging. At the moment it is very much the look at type of conventional museum presentation, very much a teaching environment.

It fits in with a range of other great tools providing access to historic location information, such as the iPhone app Historic Earth, the Walking Through Time iPhone app, or the augmented reality iPhone app Streetmuseum provided by the Museum of London.

Iframe embeded from London Low Life / Digital version of John Talli’s London Street View.

Read More

Letters and signs are a fundamental part of communication and make it possible to transport information. It extends on the spoken words by enabling shifts in time. The information is conserved to some extend and can be transported.

Writing dominates the urban landscape and there are plates of information everywhere. This form of extended communication can be very visual and is therefore preferably used over any other sort of information method. Nevertheless it is a very intellectual form of communicaiton and not at all intuitive or natural.

Since letters can be found everywhere one could accidentally stumble over some typographic symbols in the built environment. Lisa Rienermann found the whole alphabet in the streets of New York, somewhere between the roof line and the sky.

Type the sky
Image by Lisa Rienermann / Project Type the Sky – A photographic Alphabet Awarded by the TDC New York 2007 and :output foundation 2008

Another great source for spotting things of course are aerial images and Google Earth is the tool of choice for typography spotters. Darren Dub has found the all over the world. He says: “Alphabet collection using google earth. This was made for my typography class. I found all of these letters after countless hours of searching google earth.” The music is “Where is my mind?” by the Pixies. Some of the locations include: Munich, Madrid, Seattle, SF Bay Area, Prague, Miami, Beijing, Rome, Amsterdam, Tokyo and more.

More letters on Google Earth spotted by Rhett Dashwood in the state of Victoria, Australia between 2008 and 2009. This is the way to get to know your backyard a little better by looking for something in detail and you’ll discover a lot of other things accidentally. Dashwood has put online a map with the alphabet marked and it is possible to click through and discover Victoria by the letter.

Typography in Victory on Google Earth
Image taken from Rhett Dashwood / Over the course of several months beginning October 2008 to April 2009 I’ve spent some of my spare time between commercial projects searching Google Maps hoping to discover land formations or buildings resembling letter forms.

The artist Christopher LaBrooy has picked up on this sort of spotting and taken it further, speculating about the typography of famous architects and their trademark style. As a speculation he developed his favourite architects name spelt out as built letters.

Image taken from Christopher LaBrooy / Typography design based on the architecture of Tadao Ando. I picked out my favourite buildings as a basis for developing some expressive letter forms. Included are : Chikatsu Asuka historical museum – Water temple – Naoshima contemporary art museum annexe.

Image taken from Christopher LaBrooy / Typography design based on the architecture of zaha hadid. With this piece I focused on capturing zaha’s formal language rather than reference specific buildings because i am very interested in her drawings and paintings from the eighties.

Via WebUrbanist and Gizmodo.

Read More

Traditionally Lidar is the method of choice to scann urban environments at large scale. Usually this is using an airborne method for scanning large areas using laser scanning technologies to build up large point cloud data sets to remodel the environment in 3d.

This is great for virtual 3d city models where the point coud is usually mapped in combination with aerial imagery. Some of the CASA 3D London models, developed by Dr Andrew Hudson-SMith, are based on such datasets.

scanLAB Bartlett Summer Show 2010
Image taken from scanLAB / In 2010, 48 hours of colour 3D scanning produced 64 scans of the entire exhibition space using a Faro Photon 120 laser scanner. These have been compiled to form a complete 3D replica of the temporary show which has been distilled into a navigable animation (shown here) and a series of ‘standard’ architectural drawings. This body of work creates a permanent record of the temporary exhibition, not through recording images or video but solely through 3D scanning.

The scanning however can also be used on the ground, where things area little different. The range is usually likely to be limited due to obstacles and interference, but there is a lot of potential for detail. So can it be used for outdoor and indoor data capturing as wel as details the passageways and entrances.

A great example was developed by scanLABprojects, a Bartlett spinOff using FARO scanners to document the famous Bartlett Summer Show. For the 2010 version of the annual exhibition, scanLAB has reproduced the whole exhibition in 3D as a remaining documentation of a temporal event.

scanLAB Bartlett Summer Show 2010
Image taken from scanLAB / A classical sectional drawing derived from the scanned dataset.

The producers Matthew Shaw and William Trossell explain about the project:”A series of high resolution plans, sections and elevations have been extracted from the 3D scanned data set and will be exhibited soon. In these drawings, a three dimensional, sensual and temporary experience, is abstracted into a series of precisely detailed snap shots in time. The work becomes a collage of hours of delicately created lines and forms set within a feature prefect representation of the exhibition space. Sometimes a model or image stands out as identifiable, more often a sketch merges into a model and an exhibition stand creating a blurred hybrid of designs and authors. These drawings represent the closest record to an ‘as built’ drawing set for the entire exhibition and an ‘as was’ representation of the Bartlett’s year.”

This technology is very interesting for a lot of things including a complete city scan. Would be a lot of work, but one can already imagine the Google cars being equipped with scanners rather than cameras driving the lot again, capturing more information, more detail and the 3d model with it. However scanLAB have already run some tests and youtube also has some examples of how detailed and representative such scans could be. Actually it is pretty nice and has a very distinct style to it, which could eventually develop into a more subtile representation of 3d environment. It is nothing like 3D worlds or rendering, it has a very thin and fragile aura to it that very specific and likable.

scanLAB scanning the city
Image taken from scanLAB / Subverting the LiDAR Landscape a city scanning project by scanLAB.

Read More

Geneva is the Swiss city with the most important international connections. In Geneva a lot of international organisations have a headquarter such as UNO, WHO, UNHCR, ILO, WIPO and the Red Cross. But there are also other institution of international significance based, such a the CERN or the World Wide Web Library.

This results in a very dense network of international connections and puts a rather small city on the world map. Geneva only has a population of some 190’000 people. This makes it the second largest city in Switzerland after Zuerich and before Basel and Bern.

Geneva New City Landscape
Image by urbanTick for NCL / Geneva New City Landscape map generated from location based tweets collected over the period of one week. The area covered is within a 30 km radius of Geneva.

Geneva is just like Basel another Swiss city located right at the border. Here it is the crossing between Switzerland and France. The map with a 30km radius then covers large areas of France too. It reaches right down to the French town of Annecy in the south.

The international flair in Geneva together with the beautiful scenery around the Lake of Geneva (Lac Leman) and the proximity to the mountains with great ski resorts also attracts high profile celebrities, who either live there or have a second home. For example Yoko Ono, Shania Twain or Phil Collins all live around the Lake Geneva. Also interesting there is a very special group of celebrities living in the area Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve, Jean Alesi, Alain Prost, David Coulthard and Fernando Alonso I wonder if they all go together for a spin around Lake Geneva once a week.

Geneva New City Landscape

Image by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Geneva New City Landscape -Use the Google Maps style zoom function in the top right corner to zoom into the map and explore it in detail. Explore areas you know close up and find new locations you have never heard of. Click HERE for a full screen view. The maps were created using our CASA Tweet-O-Meter, in association with DigitalUrban and coded by Steven Gray, this New City Landscape represents location based twitter activity.

The very peak of the Geneva NCL is just above the Jet d’Eau the major Geneva landmark. It is located in the port out on a jetty shooting 500 litre of water per second 140 meter into the sky. It has been the symbol for the past 130 years.

In the main hill most of the international organisations are included. There are a number of tweets from UNO, WHO and so on just to the North East of the Jet d’Eau. The second peak next to the central one is around the international airport and the PalExpo in the area of Vernier. An then there is a sort of activity ridge along the north shore of the Lake Geneva, the locations most of the international celebrities live.

Geneva timeRose
Image by urbanTick for NCL / The rose shows the twitter activity per hour of the day, starting at 00:00 at the top, displayed in local time. Geneva is a night time city with more activity between midnight and four than through out the work day. The graphs show the platform of preference used to send the tweet and the language set respectively.

Interestingly the data for Geneva shows a completely different time activity pattern than any of the urban areas looked at before. So far the activity over 24 hours always more or less fitted with the normal day activity pattern and showed the characteristic activity low between the early morning hours 3am – 4am. However Geneva has its activity peaks between 1am and 3am and overall the general activity high is between midnight and 6am.

Regarding the language English and Japanese are leading the table before French. Maybe this could explain the out of hour activity. Users are tweeting with and to different parts of the world during odd times, because of the different local times.

Read More

It hase come a bit out of fashion to build new cities. It sort of comes in waves or trends when suddenly a lot of cities are being planned and built, but then the ide dies out again. The Romans build a lot of cities, then it was quiet in Europe until the Medieval times when cities came back into fashion with market rights and privileges but really was a topic during the renaissance period. Of course during the industrialisation cities were all the topic again but for all the negative reason, leading to the planning of new cities, the garden city idea. Later on during the 20th century the New Town movement brought us some new settlements. Since then with the acknowledgement of the associated problems, the conflict between structured objectivity and perceived livability.

Skolkovo Innovation Center
Image taken from Univers Utopia / A drawing of the city of Palmanova near Venice.

The ver idea of a new city and the theories around building a new place however are kind of persistent. Its a sort of statice vision. With the search for better conditions and the idealistic vision of the sustainable city, the beginning of the 21st century was marked with a few city planning projects mainly in connection with the boom in the Middle East. One of the projects Gateway City with the Dead Star by OMA and the other project, Masdar City by Foster and Partners.

Russia has not hada prestigious urban planning project for a while and has now after the Middle East boom relaunched the idea of planning a new city. Here again the focus is on technology and innovation with the promise of better quality, better conditions and of course peace of mind with numerous sustainability promisses.

The new development lead by French planners AREP Ville is branded as the Russian Silicon Valley (Press Release) using big global companies to demonstrate the attractiveness of the plans. Amongst them are according to the Fast Company Intel, Nokia, Siemens, and Cisco

The new city will be planned in Skolkovo just outside Moscow. The project came out of competition that also featured for example OMA, Foster and Partner, ARUP or Albert Speer.

In their article the Fast Company puts it as: “The 15,000-person, $4.3 billion city will feature five zones, each focusing on a different area of research: IT, nuclear, biomedical technologies, energy, and space research. Residents will get the benefit of picturesque tree-lined walkways, bike paths, and foot bridges. And, presumably, free-flowing vodka.” The cities project manager, Viktor Maslakov, is quoted as saying: “The pedestrian will come first, followed by cyclists and public transport. It will be linked to Moscow by high-speed trains taking 17-20 minutes.” This will mean a very drastic change in Russa, where the car is very much still the dominating the traffic landscape.

Architects plan for the town to generate its own electricity using solar panels, wind farms and wells that tap into geothermal energy.

Skolkovo Innovation Center
Image taken from the Fast Company – Overview of the new planned innovation centre by AREP.

With the latest series of cities, from Masdar to Skolkovo, the talking of new cities has change quite substantially. It is now about figures and performance, about technology and numbers. The city has become a product in a sense, usually branded as a science park with inovation cluster promoted to save the global problems. Where New Towns still had this strong Garden City ideology to improve peoples live, enable them to live in their individual house and play a role in the local community. The science cities are positioned as global hubs for urban nomads on business trips bringing fresh ideas and reinventing the wheel. These new cities are promoted as entities in a global market with very little concept of locality beyond icons.

Urbanisation is however still trending to increase and as Mike Batty discusses in his Commentary in the latest Environment and Planning A volume 43 is likely to increase. Batty discusses the urban growth from looking at the historic development and out of this developing a longterm perspective. He calls it ‘When all the World is a City‘ as the predictions are that everybody will be living in cities by the end of the century, but also points out the there are indications that it is likely not all will be connected to the giant cluster.

Read More

A nice timelapse bringing a three hour observation down to a gripping two minutes. It features on ly one scene, but the intensity of the cross road in view is quite fascinating. There is a vague eb and flow rhythm to it as a result of the stop and go traffic.

Besides the car traffic there is quite a lot of pedestrian movement along the side, across the roads, at the bus stop and around the phone box. The blue phone box is actually the very centre of the scene and serves for many additional functions. There are two guys using it to phone someone, but it also serves very well for leaning on.

The clip was shot by JustOneArtist using the Nokia N8 CameraPro App. It loos a bit clunky from the interface, but as you can see delivers great quality results. You can watch it ful screen in HD. JustOneArtist used a setting of every 3 sec. for 3 hours to take pictures. He also used After Effects to get the tilt shift effect in and add the sound.

Read More

Milan based Mousse magazine is running a series with the title ‘Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating‘. The editor of the series, Jens Hoffmann explains: “it emerged from a desire to trace the coordinates of contemporary curatorial practice, to take stock of a profession that is constantly evolving. Through the contributions of ten curators, the ten essays in the project examine ten fundamental themes in curating. The booklets are structured as hypothetical chapters in a book that once completed, through the reflections of some of the leading figures in the contemporary scene, will try to offer an answer to the question of “what it means to be a curator today”

I was invited by the London based artist Marysia Lewandowska to collaborate on her contribution to the fourth edition.

Mousse 4/10 Why Mediate Art?
Image taken from Mousse / Page one of ‘4/10 Why Mediate Art?’.

The fourth instalment of “Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating” looks for an answer to the question “Why Mediate Art?”. The editor Jens Hoffmann invited Maria Lind to contribute who in turn proposed to work with Marysia Lewandowska as an artist curator collaboration. In her text Maria Lind examines the seeming paradoxes that revolve around art institutions: an overabundance of traditional educational activities, aimed at engaging an ever broader public; marketing departments and press offices that take on a strategic role; curators who have no real interest in making their project known outside the professional sphere. The Swedish curator explains the importance of weaving connections between works, curatorial projects and the public, for a new kind of artistic “mediation”. Marysia Lewandowska proposal extends the meaning of mediation in our networked culture by connecting the ‘followers’ of major contemporary art museum and public galleries and Maria Lind’s text through twitter.

Mousse 4/10 Why Mediate Art?
Image taken from Mousse / Page one of ‘4/10 Why Mediate Art?’. Click Image for the interactive version.

This is the time when art is mediated to its audience not only through lectures, seminars, artists’ talks, guided tours and publications but when mediation intervenes as a pulsating stream of immediacy, mixing the promotional intentions of the institution with the visitors’ desires of sharing their observations and responses. The banal is closely entangled with the political, the randomness is attached to a system as announced by the ubiquitous banner: Twitter is a rich source of instantly updated information. It’s easy to stay updated on an incredibly wide variety of topics. By utilising the social networking platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter that emerged over the past few years, the communication between the art institutions and their audiences has grown into a real time stream of information snippets.

Interactive version created by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Twitter Education. Tweets collected using 140kit, to visualise the network Gephi was used. Click HERE for the full screen version.

What appears on the visuals are graphs mapping tweets sent by three major art institutions, Tate in London, MOMA in New York and Moderna Museet in Stockholm to communicate and mediate their activities as they are enmeshed together with Maria Lind’s text. The two text streams have been aggregated as a word chain, where each word is connected with a link to the following word in the sentence. Each word is represented only once as a node in the chain, but in many cases with multiple connections, edges, to the following words. The resulting visualisation is of a network based on the structure of the words in use. The two different sources are distinguished where red lines represent the links between the words in the tweets sent by the art institutions, while the black lines show the flow of the essay written by Maria Lind. The tweets cover the period between 2009-09-16,15:18 and 2010-11-29 16:03.

Mousse 4/10 Why Mediate Art?
Image taken from Mousse / Page one of ‘4/10 Why Mediate Art?’. Tweets collected using 140kit, to visualise the network Gephi was used. Click Image for the interactive version.

For artist Marysia Lewandowska the mapping of this flow expresses a desire and interest in distributive networks without restriction; it is the desire of being in touch and engaged, of organising one’s thoughts and sharing them instantly. The knowledge ecologies of a wider world intersect in unexpected ways and point to the role mediation plays in shaping our current social and political life.

Publication – Mousse, Editor – Jens Hoffmann, Text – Maria Lind, Art – Marysia Lewandowska, published 2011.

Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating, edited by Jens Hoffmann and published by Mousse in collaboration with the Fiorucci Art Trust, is distributed with the international edition of Mousse and with subscription copies.

Interactive version created by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Twitter Education. Tweets collected using 140kit, to visualise the network Gephi was used. Click HERE for the full screen version.

Read More

Google presents fir the currently running I/O conference in San Francisco a new Google Chrome Experiment. The developers print a data globe for visualisation purpose. It’s an in-house production and is a sort of simplified Google Earth in black and white showing colourful data spikes.

Its part of the series to demonstrate the power of the web browser. The war is on for quite a while between the companies and is currently fought the hardest on the browser front. Firefox has only just recently launched the new version and Microsoft is currently putting up paper adds across London trying to sell the detail capacity of the all new Explorer.

Image taken from readwriteweb / Screenshot of the WebGL Globe showing world population. Click the image for the interactive version

The chrome Experiments are already an established institution and contains a large selection of projects. Brilliant stuff like the interactive human body in 3D, the TimeLaps GigaPan or last years music video feature the Wilderness Downtown. Its an ongoing collection, so some new features will come up all the time.

The WebGL Globe uses web GL for the rendering all based on JavaScript. Doug Fritz of the Google Data Arts Team explains the challenges as: “The primary challenge of this project was figuring out how to draw several thousand 3D data spikes as quickly and smoothly as possible. To do this, we turned to Three.js, a JavaScript library for building lightweight 3D graphics. For each data point, we generate a cube with five faces – the bottom face, which touches the globe, is removed to improve performance. We then stretch the cube relative to the data value and position it based on latitude and longitude. Finally, we merge all of the cubes into a single geometry to make it more efficient to draw.”

Image taken from readwriteweb / Screenshot of the WebGL Globe showing Google Search results by language. Click the image for the interactive version

The second challenge was to create the interaction with the globe to enhance the experiment. since it is 3D users with the experience of Google Earth will want to drag and pan the globe. Using the mouse wheel there is also a zoom function so the data can be looked at locally. In this sense the interaction is quite nice however, the large spikes are difficult to grasp. The local level is really only for the smaller spikes.

The Google Arts Team has put online two data visualisations. One is showing the world population showing at three intervals 1990, 1995, 2000 accessible via some click links. The second visual is showing Google search volume by language.

Currently the tool seems only to offer point data and they have not yet announced a plan for additional features. It is not much more than an visualisation. However they are hoping it will be picked up by the community and have set up a Google code page, but not yet put the code for donned. Currently there seems to be only one custom visual, showing the bloggers mood around the world, based on the english speaking blogger community.

The language for the visualisation is not based on KML, but a sort of JSON interpretation. not sure how the transformation will work but apparently this should be simple. The package is now available for download on the projects Google Code page, including the two examples for reference. If you have a play with it and come up with some exciting stuff you can submit your project to Google HERE.

Image taken from alignedleft / Screenshot of the WebGL Globe showing Recently Blogged Feelings based on english speaking blogs.

Read More