Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Google Earth In Surround

5th April, 2010

Last week I was fortunate enough to visit the Google Open Source Jam event at Google’s office in Victoria, London.

I arrived a little early for the event, and had a bit of a chance to look around. In the entrance to Google’s office, I found this wonderful contraption set up.

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It essentially consists of 9 huge TVs mounted vertically and configured in such a way that they surround about three quarters of you when you stand in the middle. The TVs are all hooked up to a single (presumably pretty powerful, at least in terms of graphics) Linux box, which runs Google Earth across all of the monitors.

This provides a brilliant immersive experience when you stand inside.

At the top of the center console stands a rather ingenious control knob which permits fluid interaction with the Earth application. It somehow combines a 3-axis translation controller and a 3-axis rotation controller. This means you can translate (slide) forwards, backwards, left, right, up and down. It also allows you to rotate your view left and right as well as up and down.

Check out the video and photo gallery of the Earth display in action.

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