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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

If you had six, 42" flat screen monitors what would you do? If you are unsure, you may want to configure something like Liquid Galaxy, Google’s immersive environment that takes Google Earth from impressive website application to simulation environment. Stepping in side a small booth at the GEOINT Symposium, the user is surrounded by flat screens, and a small podium mounted with the SpaceNavigator joystick from 3DConnexion. Yes, it’s very cool, and everyone should have one for their game room (see below and click for larger image).

by Joe Francica on 10/21 at 09:04 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I spoke to Oliver Yeh, one part of the duo of MIT students that created Project Icarus. He along with fellow student Justin Lee sent a small digital camera into near space to get a bird’s eye view of eastern Massachusetts. Now, people have been launching objects skyward to photograph the earth for a long time. But, this only cost Yeh and Lee less than $150.

How did they do it? With a $30 digital camera they bought used on Amazon, a latex balloon from an online supplier (somewhat thicker than a party balloon), a Styrofoam cooler, some insulation, a small parachute, a prepaid cell phone with extended battery and antenna, and about 65 cubic feet of helium.

In order to track the balloon, the team downloaded an application that runs on the cell phone to capture the GPS coordinates and transmit the location data. The phone could not send information once above 3000 feet so it also stored the track of the balloon’s flight. Software was also downloaded to the camera with instructions to snap a photo every five seconds.

The result is a sequence of photographs of the balloons journey. The most amazing are those taken at the balloons apex of near 93,000 feet.

Oliver said they had a good idea how long it would last and the approximate altitude the balloon would reach. The entire flight took about two hours and he eventually retrieved the balloon when it landed in a small field.

You can see the photos and read more details about this amazing project at the space.1337arts website. What’s next? Perhaps a transatlantic flight where Oliver says the challenge will be to try and maintain a more constant altitude during the journey.

by Joe Francica on 10/21 at 08:46 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Though the media hype has died down from virtual world’s like Second Life, the interest and research for applications in the defense and intelligence community have exploded. Tami Griffith, Science and Technology Manager for the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has launched a contest called the Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge. The objective is to encourage the development of training and analysis solutions on a virtual world platform. For the Army, virtual worlds present very low cost simulation tools. Griffith said that, “the premise is that we have not begun to explore all of the possibilities of using virtual worlds.” A Q&A with Griffith appears on the Second Life blog and you can view more on YouTube (See below).

Jeff “Skunk” Baxter
, a military and intelligence consultant to such organizations as NGA, NRO, the Los Angeles Police Department, Ball Aerospace, and many others, warned that the blending of events in the real world and virtual reality is the next generation of virtual worlds. The next generation gets a little scary where events in the virtual world lead to “real world” deaths. Virtual Troops may engage in combat situations in cyberspace but the results may be real world destruction. “The technology now is very sophisticated,” said Baxter.

by Joe Francica on 10/21 at 04:46 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

This from Michael Jones:

Last night a Real Estate listings layer was added to Google Maps in both the USA and Australia. Note that the listings are nation-wide in each case irrespective of the availability (to us) of parcel map data.

It is interesting to use the price ranges (more than $20m, say, for expensive houses, or under $20k for inexpensive ones) to create a browseable information surface of the country’s housing demographics.

I could not find any discussion of it on the Web today. I see this when I check the Google Real Estate Search under “Featured Content” under “My Maps”:

Google Real Estate Search

Note: This mapplet will be removed shortly. There’s now an easier way to find real estate directly in Google Maps by clicking the More… button!

By clicking the More… button on the top right of any map, then clicking Real Estate you can discover properties on the map.

Indeed if you click the “More” button (on the map, next to Traffic) you’ll see the app. You can also access the app at this link.

I do recall much excitement when this app and data appeared in Australia back in July. (Search Engine Journal) Some outlets said it was also available in the U.S. back then (Accucast), but that doesn’t seem to have been the case.

by Adena Schutzberg on 10/21 at 02:21 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

In speaking with Dylan Lorimer, the project manager for Google Earth Enterprise, he said that the goal for the coming year is to support state and local governments. In particular, a new application called Google Earth Portable, developed by Google and looks to put a Google Earth globe in hands of those that need lots of data but who are not confined to an office environment. GE Portable does not require network connectivity and only a portion of an organization’s data need be put on something as small as a thumb drive. Lorimer offered that the full Google Earth server serves tiles locally to the GE Enterprise client or via Google Maps and Google Earth APIs. [This update corrects an earlier version which had cited NT Concepts as the developer of GE Portable.]

by Joe Francica on 10/21 at 01:33 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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