A little recognition for the GeoBee

If you have watched the GeoBee then you probably feel as though you need to spend more time with your globe and atlas. It was great to see President Obama ask one of the questions showing that someone at the White House gets the importance of Geography and its impact on the world.

Affordable Virtual Reality?

A big part of my research for about a decade now has been exploring the development of immersive virtual landscapes, and how evolving technologies continue to make impressive strides toward creating compelling and believable virtual worlds. One of the issues that has always been at the forefront is the cost of virtual reality hardware, whether it was early attempts at head-mounted displays or immersive rooms, such as CAVE environments. These technologies can give you amazing simulations, but most users can’t afford to buy the hardware, let alone have the space to set up multi-walled immersive environments. Now, virtual reality technology is increasingly moving toward a consumer experience, with 3D TV’s, smartphone VR and augmented reality apps, and interface devices like Microsoft’s Kinect and even Sony’s Playstation VITA with Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities.

Here’s a cool project that I had to share as well. Earlier this month, USC researchers participating in the Off-the-Shelf Virtual Reality Workshop, held in conjunction with IEEE Virtual Reality 2012 and organized by the Mixed Reality lab at USC, debuted FOV2GO, a portable fold-out smartphone viewer for iPhone and Android (sadly no Windows Phone love) that turns the screen into a 3-D virtual reality system. The viewer is made of cardboard and is easily assembled to look like an old-school ViewMaster, and you insert your smartphone into the FOV2GO and look through the eyepieces for a stereo 3D effect. To create your own 3D virtual environments to explore, there are downloadable software tools that are part of the project as well. I’d really like to use the FOV2GO in my class, so I’ll have to find out if they’ll be available in larger numbers.

This short YouTube video illustrates the FOV2GO in action:

Engaging Cities raffle can get you into the Where Conference

The folks over at Engaging Cities are offering up a free registration to this year’s Where Conference. The catch? They want to hear how you have used GIS or LBS to engage citizens. From their post:

Have you been involved with a project that utilized GIS or location-based services to engage citizens? We want to hear details about which app was used, and how the public was engaged using maps and technology. The more creative, the better.

Please share links to projects, research, news, a blog post – anything that documents your story.

All you have to do is share your activities as a comment on their post to be entered in their raffle. Get to commenting as the deadline is Friday, February 24th.

You know you have some great examples to share, so get out there and get involved and get a chance to attend a great conference.

Video games continue to build on spatial data

As I have said before, fan of geo and fan of games, so when they come together it is better than the sum of the parts. The (long awaited) next installment in the SSX series will bring together one of my favorite franchises with real world elevation models. This preview video released by the creators talks a little bit about how they are doing this. We will let you know more after we get our hands on the game when it comes out on February 28th.

What people do with maps in the era of GPS and Web Maps

In the era of GPS and Web Mapping you might think that paper(physical, concrete things you hold in your hands) maps are on their way out. I don’t necessarily agree, paper maps are very useful when you’re away from our friend electricity and are certainly handy in emergencies.

Beyond that I’ve started to notice, perhaps a bit late, that paper maps have started to take on another life as a creative medium. A few post’s back I highlighted AxisMaps where the maps were transformed into a piece of art. And if you leave the house more often than I do, you’ve probably noticed the topographic map stationary sets. Today I found another unique use of maps at CityFabric, where metropolitan areas are screen printed onto tote bags and t-shirts, complete with a pin to highlight a favorite location.

I know there are a lot of neat geographic themed gifts out there, but I think I’d like to hear from our readers and listeners if they have seen, heard, witnessed any novel uses of geographic data (not just gifts or nick-knacks).  I mean it. Find some really weird or unique use of geographic data and send a photo or link in and I’ll compile a post of all the neat stuff you find!