New EROS director

February has definitely been a month for me to play catch-up. I just came across an article from early Feb in the Argus Leader about the new EROS director Eric Clemmons. Apparently he is moving to South Dakota from a position at NOAA where he was involved in their remote sensing group. With Landsat 8 near contract and Landsats 5 and 7 limping along, I would guess that it is an exciting time to be at EROS from the Landsat portion of their activity alone.

Mobile Eye-Trek from Olympus – augmented reality for the masses?

The concept of augmented reality, utilizing technology such as mobile displays and portable devices that can superimpose data onto your view of the real world, has been around for awhile in various forms, but now the technology really is starting to catch up to the vision with the development of tools like Olympus’ Mobile Eye-Trek. It’s basically a set of glasses with a tiny LCD panel in the right eyepiece, which simulates a viewpoint approximately 50cm in front of the user. GPS tracks the users location and wireless functionality allows the device to send and receive data from a server which is hosting the local data. A prototype of the mobile Eye-Trek and an associated data service will be undergoing testing in early March using students from Chuo University in Japan

Olympus has been making Eye-Trek head mounted displays for a few years now for the consumer market, so it is possible that a version of this device and the necessary data services may actually make it onto the market, with 2012 as a target date.

Via UberGizmo

Web design and geospatial

An Event ApartApparently there is a “traveling” web design conference called An Event Apart that will be hitting New Orleans April 24-25 and then Boston, Chicago and others every month or so. Of course it caught my attention since it is going to be in New Orleans. I am not sure if the speakers or topics change by location, but it looks like a pretty interesting set of topics. While most of the geospatial web companies have a pretty good handle on the mix of tech, content and design, I think there is still plenty of room for design in may home brew or tech focused projects. I will be the first to say that most of my web map projects over the last 10 years have been fairly design void (though I thought they were great at the time I was creating them). There is definitely a different aesthetic sense used for cartography than for publication (web or hard copy) design that I have really begun to think about more as I sink back ever further into the cult of Mac. There are a few “good site” and “bad site” design websites out there that you can get ideas from, but I have to say that while it can be a pain in the butt, designing by committee will often produce a more tempered, accessible design than an individual’s personal vision.

US Atlas of Renewable Resources

While looking for some sample GIS data for a demo, I ran into the US Atlas of Renewable Resources, a project of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The atlas (which is still under development) includes a web mapping interface that show the geographic distribution of wind, biomass, geothermal and solar resources, and the NREL site also has data available for download. The Atlas of Renewable Energy is one of several GIS projects and data sets available from NREL, so if you are interested in mapping or GIS analysis related to renewable energy sources here in the US, it’s a good place to start.

Map of Popular Social Sites Throughout the World

The map is in French, so the details are a bit hazy if you don’t speak the language (which I don’t). However, if you’ve ever wondered how popular various social networking sites were around the world, it’s a map you need to see. To me, at their base functionality of socially networking people, I don’t see a humongous difference in each of these tools. Clearly different regions around the world strongly disagree with me, as sites like My Space, Friendster, Facebook, and Live Journal have different distributions around the world. If you live in South East Asia, it looks like you’re more likely to have a preference for Friendster. Whereas we in the US apparently eat up My Space more than any other site.

I’m sure there’s some sort of International Relations/Psychology/Sociology dissertation potential here. Then again, when it comes to social networking on the Internet, I’m the proverbial old guy asking the proverbial kids to get off his darn Internet, so what do I know?

Sony’s PhyreEngine – cross platform game development tools

Microsoft’s XNA announcements were not the only news to come out of the Game Developers Conference related to user community development tools for games. Sony will be releasing their PhyreEngine tools, which will allow development of games that can be recompiled for the PS3. PhyreEngine has already been used to create several games that are available on the PlayStation Network Store, including Flow, but the availability of PhyreEngine as a free download will really open up the opportunities for developing games at a reasonable cost, and then sharing them with other users. PhyreEngine supports cross-platform development on the PC and PS3 (and apparently possibly the Xbox360). It will also support a number of leading 3D model formats, including Maya and COLLADA.

There’s no official word from Sony on when PhyreEngine will be available, but I really want to give it a try and compare it to the development experience with XNA, which I have had a lot of success with so far.

Via PS3Fanboy

Walking on Steep Terrain

Researchers have verified what you probably do naturally on a steep slope – walk zig-zag. According to MSNBC, researchers at University of Southampton UK, found that zigzagging is the fastest way up or down a steep slope. Appropriately the university has its own hillwalking club. Deputy Dog has a list of the steepest streets in the world. Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh topped the list. Does this remind anyone else of the fun marble run game where you race marbles?

Microsoft Announces “Community Arcade”

In more Microsoft news, they’ve announced a new “community arcade“. The idea is pretty simple – end users and budding game developers can now “launch” their titles on Xbox Live for end users to download. I think this has the potential for use as a teaching mechanism for science. Sue will be the first to tell you that the XNA development environment is fairly easy to get up and running, and it can be used to display/manipulate GIS stuff. Being able to deliver “fun” applications that can teach geospatial technologies and concepts directly to kids is a fairly attractive idea, I think.