Google Earth, a 3D, online global mapping service that offers stitched-together satellite and 3D views of, seemingly, every square inch of the earth becomes an immersive experience inside one of Google’s Liquid Galaxy Installations.
Started a few years ago by Google engineers as one of their 20% projects (Google employees can spend one-fifth of their time on projects outside their assigned jobs), Liquid Galaxy takes Google Earth to the extreme by combining as many as eight HD displays, multiple computers and 3D Connexion Space Navigator to create an immersive global navigation experience. Your view, which spans across all the screens curves around you to fill your peripheral vision with the globe, countries, streets—essentially whatever you’re looking at. The multi-axis 3D Connexion, also known as a 3D mouse, allows you to turn, push and pull the button as if it were a helicopter joystick control. Once you get the hang of it, you’re virtually flying over the Earth.
Google still describes Liquid Galaxy as a DIY project and has even posted detailed instructions on how you can build your own, from the software and programming, to the structure that houses the 3D mouse and screens. Those instructions have helped Liquid Galaxy spread globally to installations and experimental build-outs at NASA, universities and some enterprising DIYers’ schools. Earlier this year, some crafty Googler’s launched a project to control Google Earth and Liquid Galaxy via Android devices.
While Liquid Galaxy isn’t new and there are a growing number of installations, relatively few people have first-hand experience with the technology. Mashable took Liquid Galaxy for a test drive during a recent visit to Google’s Mountain View offices, and even virtually flew to our office in NYC (see the video). Also, don’t miss the gallery of Liquid Galaxy Projects and a look at the building of the original installation.
Galaxy Frame Room
Early Google Liquid Galaxies were built inside a room.
Image Courtesy Google, Inc.
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