Building a live Google Earth

Two high definition cameras fixed to the International Space Station will soon offer real time pictures from space to everyone.

That promise is made by the Canadian startup UrtheCast . According to the BBC they will launch two high resolution video cameras to the International Space Station ISS on board a Russian Proton supply ship early next year. Cosmonauts are already in training to manoeuvre the bulky equipment from the capsule into the station and for the space walk necessary to install the cameras on the outside structure.

The cameras will offer a resolution of about 1m per pixel. According to UrtheCast you won’t quite see the tiles but all the detail in your garden.

The basic service on offer will be free – with users able to log into the site and see live or archived images and video of anywhere on Earth. With the ISS orbiting the planet around 15 times a day, sooner or later it’ll be above something you want to look at.

UrtheCast plans to give software developers free access to its code, allowing them to develop new applications such as games or utilities.


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Sorting through my archives I stumbled upon a CD with some pictures from an old project I did during my studies back in 2004, called globalexplorer. The main feature was a 3x9m projection screen we put up in the stairwell of our university.

A ticket equipped with a bar-code would allow you to “log in” at a virtual globe that allowed to select from a wide range of travel destinations around the world. This triggered  a slide show of that destination on the main projection screen synced to some fitting local music score. The color of the lighting in the whole room was linked to the images as well.

As some well thought through marketing scheme 🙂 the number that was linked to the bar-code on your ticket would allow you to log in to a website to review the images of just the destinations you visited on the virtual globe. You could leave your address get some additional information or book your journey.

Looking back it seems amazing what we pulled of with six people a lot of sponsors but altogether zero budget.

Interactive Projection Mapping

Projecting onto buildings has become a somehow common thing. I have never seen it combined with interactivity and data visualization though.

Come to your Census[] was developed by Spinifex for the occasion of Vivid Sydney, a spectacular festival around the theme of light which happened about one month ago.

The installation consisted of 3 different parts that visualized several datasets from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The main interactive projection mapping showed data like Age & Gender, Country of Birth, Mode of Transport and Occupation of every postcode in Australia, which then could be interactively steered from a multitouch table in front of it. Another projection mapping displayed a normal infographics-based animation, while several interactive kiosks offered access to the ABS Spotlight website, an infographic story-tellingw website that describes several census statistics from a personal perspective.


Projecting Desk Lamp Shares Workspace

Microsoft Research shows a very simple but compelling way to share your physical local desktop with a remote one.

The project called IllumiShare integrated a camera and a small projector into a desk lamp. This device allows to overlay the image captured from a remote desktop over your own as a projection.

Polarized 3D LCDs

After LG and Hyundai Philips announced a new product series of polarized 3D LCDs. Still they will continue to offer active stereo. The advantage of polarized displays, in their opinion are the cheap glasses. Polarized displays will become available starting in two product series: First the 7000er series and the 50″ “Gold variant” of the 21:9 Cinema Display. In the 7000er series the 42″ 42-PFL7607K will be available starting in May followed by displays in the range of 32″ to 55″ between June and August.

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Replacing the TV Remote

PrimeSense the company providing the technology behind Microsofts Kinect is working with Asus on the long awaited 🙂  replacement for the TV Remote. One result of this cooperation is a new product by Asus the “WAVI Xtion”. The technology behind it is the same as the Kinects. Other than Microsoft Asus is not aiming for the gaming market but the living room in general. Seeing it as the dooropener for bringing the  PC into the living room.

Amongst other things one important part of this development is to increase the resolution of the sensor to allow tracking of smaller structures like fingers.

[via Technology Review].