Interactive 3D Fog Projector

Finnish researcher, Ismo Rakkolainen, has spent the past 25 years creating immaterial projection screens. His work on fog screens was first demonstrated at the Turku Science Exhibition in Turku, Finland in 2002 and since then has published many papers on his work on fog. Concurrently, Rakkolainen has commercialised his research into the company FogScreen, whereby a 2m fog screen unit retails for upwards of $30,000.

This project looks to build upon Rakkolainen’s body of work and produces a low-cost, 3D interactive fog screen. The team composes of four Engineering Doctorate students from UCL’s Virtual Environment, Imaging and Visualisation Centre and is led by Anthony Steed, Professor of Virtual Environments & Computer Graphics Department of Computer Science.


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Designing 3D Geographic Information for Navigation Using Google Glass

No longer bound by traditional 2D physical representations, there is a steady shift towards three-dimensional data (3D) allowing for a less abstract version of the real world. In the last decade the stratospheric rise of smartphones and mobile navigation applications has changed the way we navigate. Existing research recognises landmarks to be important navigational cues but specific geometric and semantic attributes most salient for 3D representations have not been identified. This study offers a user-centred investigation into assessing of the saliency of environmental objects which facilitate pedestrian navigation in the real world.

A novel real world navigation experiment using Google Glass was carried out with fourteen British 20-30 year olds (n=14) to elicit data requirements. Each participant were instructed to follow a route on the map provided with no time limit and were asked to produce a set of written instructions. Concurrently, a custom application written for the Google Glass captured video, sound as well as gaze vector of the user. Results indicate that geometric and semantic detail are most pertinent for navigation between 1.65 – 7.5m for buildings. Visual characteristics such as colour, shape and texture are more relevant than function and use.

From the findings a preliminary minimum specification for 3D GIS data specific for navigation can therefore be proposed. The study is designed to be iterative, whereby a 3D data would be produced from the above specification and tested in further navigation exercises. In addition, this study provides an insight into the problems and difficulties faced in conducting 3D experiments and its subsequent analysis. Where 2D is insufficient in analysing the data collected, the deficiencies in the current state of 3DGIS tools and datasets are also exposed. Future work with larger samples from different cultures and ages would be desirable as well as with more refined 3D tools.

Enhancing Positioning of Photovoltaic Panels Using 3D Geographic Information

The United Kingdom faces enormous challenges to meet national carbon emissions target of 80% reduction by 2060 and solar photovoltaic (PV) panels may offer part of a sustainable solution. Current desktop methods to assess a property for PV suitability are crude, unreliable and mostly two-dimensional. Accordingly, Ordnance Survey are expanding into the 3D geographic information (GI) market and are looking to test and validate the value of 3D models in a practical way, in particular with PV suitability assessment.

The argument presented in this study concerns the capacity of 3D GI to enhance the desktop evaluation assessment of property suitability for photovoltaic panels. Qualitative interviews were used to gather data on potential users, forming a specification of their needs which consequently framed the development of a prototype solar panel positioning tool. The resulting tool presented an alternative, robust and 3D method of assessing a property for PV suitability, demonstrating the analytical potential of OS 3D data.

This study offers an unconventional approach to PV analysis which could be incorporated into a wider renewable technology suitability assessment toolkit. In the future, this will help inform the public on possible energy efficiency improvements that can be made to their properties, contributing to national efforts in reducing carbon emissions.

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Assessing Photovoltaic Potential in Hawaii

The State of Hawaii is highly dependent on fossil fuels; 90% of its energy is derived from imported oil sourced predominantly from the Asia-Pacific region and the politically unstable Middle-East. The 2008 Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative has set goals for renewable energy to meet 70% of the State’s energy demand by 2030. The abundance of sunshine on the islands makes Hawaii a prime candidate for photovoltaics yet there are many barriers to market penetration.

Little data is available on solar resources on the island and this study aimed to spatially assess photovoltaic potential using a combination of quantitative GIS modelling and qualitative interview research methods. Our results showed that both Oahu and Maui consistently displayed solar irradiance levels above 5.6 kW-hours/m2, particularly in the low-lying urban areas. Combining with US income data, results also show that showed key population concentrations such Honolulu and Waikiki had significant potential for photovoltaic uptake. Interviews with key renewable agencies have shown that disconnected mind sets have hindered PV adoption. The analysis indicates that there exists significant physical potential for residential solar PV but economic feasibility and policy environment limits the adoption of this technology

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Why is Spatial Special?

"Almost everything that happens, happens somewhere."

Professor Paul Longley, 2005

For Professor Longley, a leading expert in Geographic Information Science, the fact that almost all human activities and decisions involves an important geographic component makes spatial “special”. He argues that the spatial element is unique and working with geographic information involve complex and difficult choices.

This essay is about the rise of Geographic Information Science as a discipline. It will look at how historically geographic knowledge was created, organised and shaped into a discipline and how the subsequent crises led to the reorganisation of knowledge and the formation of interdisciplinary subdisciplines.

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