Why we often have ‘spare’ time

computerpeople-smallI found this great comic over at Eviljaymz (though it is an homage to xkcd stylistically) and immediately thought of Frank…and the rest of the geospatial community. Many of these jobs live in the geospatial stack but there are a ton of tasks that we could add to the list like our wait times classifying remote sensing data, running our ‘favorite’ AML or model builder script, loading data into our database…the list goes on and on 🙂

What are some of your favorite ways to add a little ‘spare’ time to your day using the always handy MS hourglass.

If you click through the image you can access the original in a larger size.

Media Vehicle – Virtual Reality Mecha Style

For those of you who have always wanted to pilot your own giant mecha battle robot, Japanese researchers have taken another step toward the dream with the development of the Media Vehicle (site is in Japanese), which is a pod-like personal VR chamber that envelopes the user in a spherical display with no access to outside stimuli, while leaving the legs free to move. Definitely not for claustrophobics, but it’s still a pretty amazing machine.

Video of the Media Vehicle in action


Checking out ARSights for Google Earth models

Many of you may have already seen the press releases and various posts about ARSights, an augmented reality app that lets you look at Google Earth models on your desktop. ARSights is from the Italian company Inglobe, which has developed ARMedia as a platform for augmented reality functionality. Some of our former colleagues here were working on some AR projects, so we thought we’d give ARSights a quick whirl and see what’s it all about. ARSights requires a few things to work: a web cam, Google Earth’s browser plugin, one of ARSight’s 3D models from Google Earth (right now it doesn’t work with any model), a printed copy of the marker target, and the ARSights application. There are instructions on the ARSights site to get everything set up.
Once we got everything set up, we downloaded the Parthenon model and gave it a try. It seems to work pretty well, and you can look on your desktop webcam view and see the model as if it is on the physical target in front of you. You can spin the model and zoom in and out by manipulating the target marker.

ARSights is a nice app as an introduction to the concepts of augmented reality, and it’s pretty nifty. I can especially see it being useful in educational collaborative types of settings. It’s only one of a number of projects working on this type of technology, though, as we saw a very similar application during the Labs demos at Autodesk University back in December (We shot some video of that demo and will be posting it soon on VerySpatial TV).

Rockin’ with Geography – Teacher and the Rockbots

Rock n’ roll lovers everywhere – now you can help remember your geography skills by rocking out with Teacher and the Rockbots, as they sing classics like “Continents,” “How to Read a Map, and “Supply and Demand” from their album “World”

Teacher and the Rockbots is an educational site that also has 3 other music CDs to go along with “World” – “Science”, “America”, and “Multiplication.” So yes, while they’re really geared toward elementary school students, kids of all ages will find themselves cranking up their iPod for these catchy rock tunes.

You can buy “World” through the Teacher and the Rockbots site for $12.99, or you can download it from iTunes for $9.99

More VR CAVE demos – our XNA virtual landscape application

I have really slacked off on the postings on the blog while I work on my research stuff, but I’ve finally got some pictures of my XNA virtual world application up and running in the VR CAVE at WVU. We had to do some tweaking because XNA is DirectX-based, so it runs on a separate setup from the Conduit and doesn’t affect that configuration. The demo that you see in the photos is our Virtual Morgantown project, and we are slowing filling out the landscape by re-texturing all of our 350+ SketchUp models that were used in the 1st generation ArcScene project, and then exporting them to .FBX for use in the XNA application. So far, it’s running great, and we’ve already created several small scenes and even have weather particle systems running. Everyone’s favorite so far is the snowy Morgantown landscape!

Just a reminder that the CAVE utilizes stereo 3D, so the photos are a little blurry because they show the double images that are drawn to give the stereo effect.


Closeup XNA in CAVE

UK Satellite company talks low cost

The BBC has an interesting article on plans by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) to launch a $70million satellite that will be able to capture 60cm pixel images. SSTL believes the proposed satellite system dubbed ART (Accuracy, Reach, Timeless) could cover 95% of the planet every 30 months. The key to the system is that they anticipate the cost of the imagery to be $0.15 sq/km versus current prices aroung $20 sq/km. Check out the full article over on the BBC website

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | UK sat firm plans low cost mapper.

Synthin’ with Photosynth

As I’m sure many of you remember, I have been a fan of Microsoft Research’s Photosynth since we saw the first tech previews back in July 2006. Today I finally got some time to sit down and try it out myself. After setting up my profile on the Photosynth site and downloading and installing Photosynth, I checked out the Photosynth Guide and headed out to Woodburn Circle, a focal point on the WVU downtown campus. I took about 200 photos and brought them into the Photosynth dialog to pare the collection down to about 190 photos. I clicked the magic button to start the synth, and about 40 minutes later (it was a pretty big collection!) my synth was done and uploaded. The viewer shows the aligned photos as well as the point cloud Photosynth generates (It can be difficult to see the cloud at some angles).

When I saw the finished synth, I have to say I was even more impressed than I was after seeing all the examples already out there. Check it out below and see what you think!

Corn Mazes – Fun for all!

Even though it’s a little late in the season, I couldn’t resist posting about a fun harvest time adventure for all ages – corn mazes! You can find people making them in lots of places where corn is grown (or maize for some of our readers), and of course they are often combined with those other fun down-on-the-farm activities like hay rides. Sadly, although I grew up in a corn-growing area and tromped through many cornfields, none of them were laid out into cool mazes.

Of course, for those of you who don’t want to miss out like I did, there are many resources on the Interwebs where you can find maps and directories of corn mazes, like Corn Mazes America or Corn Maze Directory, the USGS has a webpage on teaching Geography using corn mazes, and a site called Harvest Moon even has a virtual corn maze for people who’d rather not go outside at all.