Sep 5, 2010

Planet in Action's 3D Sound in Google Earth: Part of the Interactive, Touchable 3D Picture (and thoughts about how this might play out on interactive whiteboards in education)

I came across a link to Planet in Action's video demonstration of 3D sound in Google Earth, thanks to a post by Nate Torkington in O'Reilly Radar.  WOW!   

The company shows that a 3D sound engine works nicely within the Google Earth environment.  Planet in Action tweaked the Soundmanager2 library from, resulting in a sound3D javascript object that can be used to program geo-located sounds in Google Earth.

The 3D sound concept, in my opinion, will be useful in creating immersive interactive educational experiences, especially if students have access to newer interactive whiteboards with decent sound systems.    

Below is the video from Planet in Action, along with a bit of promotional information:

The video is of a port in San Sabastian, Spain.  The "sound landscape" is realistic, and a range of sounds, from various spots in the scene, can be heard during the exploration.  

"Google Earth is a highly detailed 3D representation of our entire planet.  Rather than just looking at it, why not play on it! brings you top quality ideas, applications and concepts that will let you experience your planet in a whole new way." -Planet in Action


My bet is that this concept will play out very well in the future in family rooms outfitted with large displays and decent surround sound systems. 

Why?  No need to explain.  Just take a look at what is going on with 3D TV and film,  3D HD gaminginteractive TVinternet-enabled large HD TVs, Google's "Lean Back" concept, and the "Slow Media" movement.

By the way, Planet in Action's work strikes a chord in me.  One of my HCI team travel planning projects that used Google Earth in the demonstration prototype.  We focused on cruise travel planning, mostly because I had lots of pictures and video clips from my cruise trips vacations and other travels.  I even worked on part of the project while I was ON a cruise ship.  (That was before the economic downturn.)   Below is a video of a cruise ship model that Planet in Action created for a cruise line, for use in Google Earth:

Celebrity Constellation Virtual Fly-by


As I mentioned in my previous post, "Video Experiments: Sea Life Medley - Extended version with music",  I'm experimenting with some ideas to create interactive educational video clips for future use on higher-resolution interactive whiteboards and other large touch-screen surfaces.   

Part of my motivation stems from an immediate need for "touchable" content for the students I work with who have more significant disabilities, including autism- and of course, my colleagues. All of the classrooms in the program have IWBs- mostly brand-new SMARTBoards - - we also have a SMARTTable that is begging for more content.

As I worked with students using my video clips and a new SMARTboard, I noticed that students have a strong desire to touch what they see on the screen.  If they could stop the video and further explore item of interest, for example, the jellyfish in the above picture, it would be great.  

Imagine putting your hand on the jellyfish, and having the power to explore it as a 3D model! If you are a grad student or researcher who is working on this concept, or something related, please let me know.

Getting back to the 3D landscapes/soundscapes in Google Earth- this is something that I'd like to try at school.  I'm wonder if PlanetinAction allows for touch-screen interaction so that students who are at the SMARTBoard can easily explore the 3D-sound enabled scenes in Google Earth.

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