The first nano-cartographers? – IBM creates world’s smallest 3D map

“To see a world in a grain of sand” – William Blake’s lyrical words take on a new meaning when you watch this video of IBM researchers demonstrating their new nanomill technology, which uses a tiny silicon tip to carve out objects and features as small as 15 nanometers. While it’s probably not going to revolutionize map-making, the nanomill can be used for numerous high-precision applications in electronics, optics, and medical research.

From the IBM press release, the demonstration includes a “Complete 3D map of the world measuring only 22 by 11 micrometers was “written” on a polymer. At this size, 1,000 world maps could fit on a grain of salt. In the relief, one thousand meters of altitude correspond to roughly eight nanometers (nm). It is composed of 500,000 pixels, each measuring 20 nm2, and was created in only 2 minutes and 23 seconds.”

Via GizModo

Transforming the Urban Landscape – Cheonggyecheon Stream Restoration

I’m always a fan of projects that transform decaying manmade structures and features into revitalized green spaces, and I saw this great example from Seoul, Korea. This project is even cooler because a river that runs directly through Seoul had been buried years before underneath the highway, and when the road was demolished for the park, the river was recovered and is now a centerpiece of the urban park.

As more and more of us are living in urban environments, I hope that we’ll see more innovative projects like
the Seoul Cheonggyecheon Stream park.

Via Eyebeam and Inhabit

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

ArcPad and an anniversary

Since Elvin and various ArcPad team members (I’m looking at you Marika) have spent our last couple of anniversaries hanging out at our live show, we wanted to take the opportunity to recognize their recent blog post. Ten years is a big milestone and I have to admit that I have been using ArcPad through its various incarnations for most of those years. Right now on my desk on campus sits a Trimble Nomad with ArcPad 8 installed and waiting for me to take my GIS class out around campus to capture POI’s for their class project.

In light of this anniversary, I just wanted to say keep the great software coming (including today’s release of ArcPad 8.0 SP3) and we better see you at our 5th anniversary show this summer at the UC. Here is a few of our ArcPad run-ins

  • Episode 209
  • Episode 160
  • Special Episode 17
  • Tokyo’s N Building – Augmented Reality Architecture

    Augmented Reality is one of those cool tech innovations that has been tantalizing us for years as the “Next Big Thing”, but the immense challenges in conceptualizing and implementing AR design and technology mean that actual AR applications are still pretty few and far between. Some exciting projects are out there and we’ve mentioned several of the iPhone and mobile apps, like Layar, that are taking the handheld approach to AR. A cool project out of Japan, the N Building in Tokyo, takes mobile AR to the next level. The building’s whole facade is part of the AR experience, as the windows are QR codes that contain information about what’s inside the building. A user can stand outside and point their mobile device (with the appropriate app installed of course) at the N building, snap a picture of one or more of the windows, and find out what’s inside, get info and specials for stores, and even see who’s tweeting inside and what they saying! The N Building is a collaboration between Terradesign and Qosmo.

    N Building from Alexander Reeder on Vimeo.

    Via Gizmodo

    It’s That Time of Year Again – Cool Holiday Gift Ideas for that Geographer on your List

    Yes, It’s the first Friday in December, and I’ve just finished all my online Christmas shopping, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite gift ideas for that geography fan on your list.

    First up, are a few cool items from Uncommon Goods, which has quite a few geography-themed gifts. The City Plate, $50, is a nice porcelain collector plate imprinted with maps of cities around the world, including Chicago, Paris, Berlin, and Shanghai. For the jewelry lover on your list, the World Links necklace at $60, is a very pretty way to bear the weight of the world (ha, I know, but I couldn’t stop myself). But seriously, my favorite item from Uncommon Goods is the Building New York’s History 4D cityscape puzzle, which the website bills as “the world’s first puzzle to incorporate the 4th dimension – time! First, a traditional puzzle lays out the island and streets of Manhattan. Then, use the full-color timeline to place 126 plastic buildings and skyscrapers, and watch New York’s famous skyline grow in the order it was built, from 1820 to the present.” I so want one of these! And, at $50, it won’t break the bank!

    If you want to go with a cartographically-themed gift, OmniMap has some cool ideas, from the bold fashion statement of the Map Jacket to the Cold War Silk Pilots Escape & Survival Maps. My favorite map-themed gift site for this year, though, has got to be the Library of Congress’ Zazzle store which has some great gifts featuring maps in their collections, including commemorative postage stamps and map prints and posters. The collection is amazing, and just browsing through a few pages of their products, I found a number of 19th and early 20th century panoramic views of American cities, map prints of historic maps of place around the world, Grand Canyon prints, an Alaska steamship, the list goes on and on… And, they are very reasonably priced, starting at $9.95 for a 17′ x 11′ print. You can even get a “Colossal” print – 60″ x 52″, but that will set you back $129.95.

    For the kids on the list, Fat Brain Toys’ Passport to Culture looks like a fun game which takes players on a journey around the world to learn about different cultures. With the GeoSculpt 3D Project Kit, kids can create their own 3D geography by sculpting land forms out of foam and then painting the features as a finishing touch. There are tons more great geography-themed educational toy and games out there, so hit up your favorite search engine and see what you can come up with!

    Happy Holidays!

    Amazing film footage of San Francisco in 1905

    When the main focus of your work is historical landscapes, like mine is, your biggest obstacles is finding good data about what that landscape looked like. I know I would do almost anything to find a source for my project like this amazing film footage of Market Street in San Francisco in 1905, before the huge 1906 earthquake. The footage was taken from a camera in the front of a streetcar moving down Market Street toward what looks to be the Embarqadero. Besides providing a great look at a typical day in a bustling city, you can see all kinds of cool things, including how nonchalant everyone is about the streetcars, horse-drawn carriages and wagons, and even automobiles coming at them from every direction.

    This version of the footage is being used as a music video for an instrumental group called Air, but you can also download the video from the Library of Congress American Memory site

    Cool views of the International Space Station with Photosynth

    Two things that are definitely high on my cool list – space stuff and Photosynth – have come together to allow you to take a virtual tour – inside and out – of the International Space Station. Microsoft and NASA have partnered on the synths of the space station on NASA’s website. It’s a great way to get to explore the space station’s modules using the Photosynth viewer, and you can even see the 3D point cloud of the station. There are also synths available for the Mars Rover and the Hubble telescope.

    The only downside is that these synths aren’t embeddable, so I can’t give you a preview here. But definitely head over to the NASA ISS Photosynth page and check it out!