We have tweeted about and talked about and shown the History Channel’s How the States Got Their Shapes often since the original 2 hour special aired and have sat entranced as Brian Unger has taken us through the first six episodes of the season. BUT…we probably need to take a step back and make sure to give the credit of the shows concept to Mark Stein who published the book of the same name back in 2008. In addition, Mr Stein has just released How the States Got Their Shapes Too: The People Behind the Borderlines which, as the name suggests, looks at the people who were most influential in creating the borders in the US. In the mean time, while we take some time to read the new book, you can check out a presentation Mark Stein gave to the Library of Congress about the first book.
On this memorial day weekend the History Channel is kicking off a week of Civil War themed shows. While watching I thought I’d see if there were any interesting maps available on the intertubes. What did I find? Some wonderful animated maps from the Civil War Trust ! The maps are flash based and progress through some key battles of the war. The site also provides users historical maps and new digital maps that are static.
Additionally, the site has available BattleApps. The BattleApps are virtual Civil War tour guides for the war or specific battles for the iPhone or iPad. The apps are location aware and throughout the tour one could view video clips from the national park service and see locations of troops of both the North and South. Another great example of giving old paper maps a new lease on life with digital innovation!
Augmented reality is one of those technologies that has seemed like it would be next big thing for the last couple of years, but it has proven pretty difficult to translate from WOW factor proof-of-concept prototypes to actual commercial implementations. When I saw this demo video of Sony’s Smart AR, though, I have to say I was pretty impressed with how good the AR model looks in the real-world environment it’s being projected into, and how responsive it is. The SmartAR seems to be able to handle movement in the 3D space really well, and the virtual object is not tied to the marker surface, which is really important in making the augmented reality compelling. Another aspect of SmartAR technology allows a user to capture an image of an object and then access additional information about that object through the device. For Sony, of course, implementing technology like Smart AR for gaming and other commercial uses is certainly a main focus, but I can see tons of other applications for markerless, high-speed augmented reality.
Found a fun little video that shows that while we have come a long way, we are trying to share the same ideas now that we were a few decades ago.
I’ve already posted my thoughts on the approaching end of NASA’s space shuttle program, but Endeavor‘s last launch this morning went off perfectly, and reminded me once again how amazing the program has been. There will be one more shuttle flight, STS-135 in early July, when Atlantis takes its final trip into orbit. So, here’s to a successful final mission and landing for Endeavor!
(Image courtesy of NASA)
This is one of Threadless’s new designs for the week…entitled ‘Pop It‘. Of course if you like globe oriented t-shirts you may want to check out Threadless’s back catalog.
For this particular design, I am not sure whether to laugh hysterically or just shake my head in that “it’s just not right” kind of way. Does that mean I am getting to old for the hip t-shirt?
Also…could this be why Mt Etna erupted earlier this year?
HBO’s new Game of Thrones has an awesome opening that ties cartography, 3D, and steam punk in a great way.
In a world where GPS enabled smartphones are as passe as intermittent wipers on cars and coffee makers with clocks in them, it’s neat to read some exciting new location based technology news. It’s inevitable that phones would begin to launch with alternative location infrastructures than GPS, but I have to say I’m slightly shocked it was this early. Obviously the phone is only available in Russia for now, but there’s nothing inherent to say US phones couldn’t start supporting the system in the future, although that’s highly unlikely anytime soon. What will be interesting is when Europe gets their Galileo system up and running and China gets their Compass system as well. I wouldn’t be shocked to see tri-band phones that support more than just GPS coming in our future.
We’ve had more space posts than usual in the last week or so, but I wanted to give a shoutout to the Space Shuttle Discovery and its crew, for the safe landing and the successful completion of its final mission. I’m one of over 80,000 viewers watching the post-landing video stream on NASA TV over at uStream, and I think that the approaching end of the shuttle program has really reminded everyone of its amazing achievements over the past 30 years.