MIT students create 3D relief interface

Nowadays, when we think about research into 3D interfaces, it’s usually referring to work done on trying to get real objects to display in 3D in a computer. But check out this cool project, called Relief, created by MIT students to read digital relief data and create a physical 3D model. It uses an array of 120 motorized with a malleable surface covering them. The pins heights are set based on relief data, and then surface is deformed accordingly. An image of terrain or other types of media can then be projected onto the surface to enhance the visualization.

TEI 2010 / Relief: a responsive 3D surface from benny on Vimeo.

Via eyebeam

Human Movement Can Be Predicted by Cell Phones

This shouldn’t come as any huge shock to anyone familiar with LBS, but researchers have shown that 93% of human movement can be predicted by cell phone.  In an article published in Science, the researchers suggest that most human movement is fairly limited in area.  They actually say most customers stay in a 6 mile radius most of the time.  They go on to suggest this sort of aggregate data would be great for city planners (or cell phone companies, presumably)  The findings were broken down by hour and unsurprisingly, tended to be highly volatile during ‘transition’ times.

Best US Government Blogs

Ran across this interesting post: the best government blogs and why they’re the best.  With the exception of NASA, none of these have a direct geospatial tie.  In fact, all but one of them are CIO’s of their respective organizations.  It sorta makes sense it would start there, but I’d like to challenge anybody in local, state, or federal government who has any stake in geospatial information to start blogging.  The points on what makes each of these blogs work are excellent starting points to use in your own blog.  I’d love to see more geospatial government blogs out there!

Ramping up for Where 2.0


Where 2.0 Conference 2010
Clearly conference season is upon us at the VerySpatial virtual compound as we are buying tickets for planes and trains to get to various parts of the country. With Where 2.0 kicking off on March 29 in San Jose, we wanted to point out two things.

1) Early Registration has been extended until March 1, which means you can still save 30% of the regular registration price for the next week and
2) we still have a discount code (whr10vsp) that will save you an additional 20% off the early registration price.

Also, if you are an educator, student, or work for a non-profit you can save even more (40-65%) with some of the other discount codes. If you are an undergrad or a grad student you should check with your Dean’s office to see if there are any travel monies that could cover your trip, especially if you are already on the west coast.

As for our plans, Sue and I will be making the trip out to San Jose to learn about the technologies and ideas we will be sharing in the classroom next year (or even later this semester). But as we go, so goes the microphone and recorder (not the woodwind) so send us an email if you would like to talk while we are in town. We will be in sessions, but we always make time to talk to folks about any of the great projects that are being highlighted at Where 2.0.

GPS Adventures at the Maryland Science Center

Dan at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore emailed to let us know that GPS Adventures, a traveling exhibit all about GPS and geocaching, will be opening tomorrow, February 20th and will be running until April 18th.
GPS Adventures gives visitors an introduction to GPS technology and the basics of navigation in general, and offers some cool hands on experience. The exhibit is set up like a small maze, which the idea of simulating a geocaching event by having visitors explore 4 different environments, find a hidden cache and solve a puzzle in each area, and then use the code to enter each of 4 Satellite Rooms.
GPS Adventures is a great way to get kids introduced to GPS and the role it plays in our world, so if you can get to Baltimore, definitely check it out. For those of you on the West Coast, GPS Adventures will be heading to Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, California after it leaves the Maryland Science Center in April.

Microsoft Live Labs’ Blaise Aguera y Arcas demos AR features for Bing Maps

As you all know by now, I am a fan of Photosynth. Just a few days ago, the creator of Seadragon and co-creator of Photosynth, Blaise Aguera y Arcas gave a great presentation at TED 2010 and showed a demo of some new augmented reality type features being integrated into Bing Maps, including Indoor Panoramas (enhanced in the demo by the integration of real-time video that was embedded into the imagery – this cool augmented reality type functionality is still in the concept stage), Streetside Photos which mines geo-tagged Creative Commons photos from Flickr and incorporates them into Streetside, and finishing off with a demo of the integration of Worldwide Telescope that would allow the user to look up while in a street view and see the stars and constellations above them. Check out the video:

Mobile is as mobile does

As you may have been able to tell from the avalanche of mobile phone hardware and software news this week, the Mobile World Congress is going on in Barcelona. So far the big news (in my eyes) has been on the operating system front with Microsoft’s announcement of Windows Phone 7, which looks like an impressive update to the long-in-the-tooth Windows Mobile, and Symbian^3 (cubed? 3? I don’t know), which will be the first fully open source release of Symbian since it was spun off into the Symbian Foundation. There are even rumors that Microsoft’s new non-smart phones will be sporting a Silverlight UI, suggesting they won’t be dumb phones.

As for hardware, it is raining goodies in all flavors as HTC, LG, Samsung and others throw out announcement after announcement of new phones which special attention to the smart phone market. This of course means that brand new location aware devices will be rolling out over the next year. Not all of these devices will be smart phones as more than one computer/tablet manufacturer is on hand in Barcelona to highlight the other mobile devices that are vying for your pay check.

Don’t think that MWC is just about the hardware and OS announcements. There is a heavy helping of apps that are being announced this week for every smart phone platform that can be imagined. We will of course have a wrap up of the goodies that have caught our eye this weekend on the podcast, so check back Sunday for our take on some of these announcements.