Spherical displays – a reader question

A friend has been asked to make a purchasing recommendation for a large British scientific organization regarding spherical displays — spheres onto which you project video to display moving images of round bodies like Earth or Mars.

He knows of two, but was wondering if there are more on the market worth investigating.

The first is the PufferSphere by Pufferfish, a British company whose displays are also used at concerts and for art projects, but which seems to have a magical effect on children when displaying the Earth, as evinced by a video from this year’s Ocean & Earth Day at the UK National Oceanography Centre:


Pufferfish @ the National Oceanography Centre, UK. from Pufferfish on Vimeo.

Another is Global Imagination’s Magic Planet, which has a variety of sizes of globes, and can include a range of premade globe software, for example a version of NASA World Wind. It can be run from a PC. You can download a video from this page. (Not having embedded video in 2008 is a bit negligent, no?:-) And so is the 2004 copyright.)

I also found the OmniGlobe by ARC Science Simulations. It also offers a large globe, and comes with pre-installed software that facilitates the showing of planets and adding your own content. See videos of their globe here:

So the question to readers is: Are there other commercial manufacturers of such products you know of? Have you had any experiences with any of these? None of these three manufacturers are willing to quote prices for their devices up front, but my guess is that a big determinant involves the kind of content you want to display — if it needs to be custom-created, it will cost a lot more.

4 thoughts on “Spherical displays – a reader question”

  1. You might want to look at Eluminati which makes spherical dome systems for visualizing spatial information including astronomy data. They had one of their portable domes at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin this year and it was impressive. Elumenati makes projectors, domes and software for a complete spherical display package.

    http://www.elumenati.com/

    Also, Uniview makes some impressive software for displaying data in systems like Elumenati. Their Geoscope software particularly handles geo data.

    http://www.scalingtheuniverse.com/

    Costs will vary depending on what you need so I suggest contacting these companies to get figures.

    Cheers,

    Keene

  2. Content is indeed a very important consideration. The Global Imagination system (declared interest – Vivifeye is UK distributor) comes with a large quantity of exhibits and animations included

    - see http://tinyurl.com/3uownx for a preview of just some of these.

    Making a tailormade exhibit could range from taking some of this content and adapting it to your needs, perhaps using a template touchscreen interface, or commissioning a design house to come up with something unique.

    Regarding hardware costs, for GI these are determined by the size of sphere (from 41cm to 182cm diameters) and the power and resolution of the projector. If you would like to get into specifics, let me know.

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