Interactive Globe Is Awesome For Google Earth


Time to brush up on your Portuguese if you want to learn how to build your own interactive globe! Or we guess we could use Google translate…

This project was originally presented at Campus Party 2012: an annual, week-long technology festival running 24 hours a day that features LAN parties, a hackathon, conferences, and more. It all started back in 1997 in Madrid, Spain. Today, there are now Campus Parties being held in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, the USA, Ecuador, and Germany.

The team that created it—[Araujo, Barmak, Teo, Duprat, and Silva]—has now decided to give back to the community and share a tutorial on how make your very own. The globe uses a short throw projector, a mirror, a series of infrared lights, a modified PS3 Eye camera, and an acrylic dome with projector screen paint on the inside. The touchscreen works by the IR light being reflected off of your hand on contact, which is then picked up by the PS3 Eye camera that has had its IR filter removed.

Unless you can find a suitable acrylic dome, it is, unfortunately, rather expensive to make. They had to have one manufactured. Stick around after the break to see how it works!

[Thanks Rafael!]

27 thoughts on “Interactive Globe Is Awesome For Google Earth

    1. Don’t forget to note that this project was made in Brazil. Here, we have the most expensive iPhone, PS4, Wii U, politicians, cars, and acrylic domes of the entire world.

      The build is very well made, and plugging it on Google Earth is really a nice touch!

  1. acrylic domes are rather simple to make … you just blow air under some heated acrylic, you can get them fairly cheap and dirt cheap when used (i got 2 in order to make a ball about 2′ in diameter for $5 for both at a surplus store)

      1. I don’t visit Limburg often, but when I do I’ll try and stop by there. Like the control ring on that one. Using projection from the top however is a bit less impressive compared to this project.

  2. I’m really impressed by the infrared “touch screen!” It’s a great project overall, but I’m a little disappointed to see that they didn’t take the time to remove the distortion caused by projecting onto the inside of a sphere. It almost looks as if they left the projected image completely flat, but they could have easily fixed this with some projection mapping.

    1. Actually we did. But the math is a little tricky because of the mirror, which causes a different kind of distortion. The image that is projected looks nothing like a flat screen (we use a monitor aside and it’s to look at it). But his version in the video was not 100% calibrated. The result is a little better in these terms. Users never complain :)
      But we would love some input in the code to make it even better!

      1. Can’t you use some kind lens to transform the flat projection to an hemisphere projection ? It’s just an idea that came in mind but I suppose its feasible not sure haw, like a reverse fish eye maybe ? Should be simpler than doing a transformation. But ever way nice work, thought it would be great to replace the Video-projector with something cheaper, like a screen with enough pixel and brightness perhaps.

        1. The correct lens could work but it creates two problems and only solves one. First, you’re going to have a gaping hole in your pocket after getting a custom lens ground to sufficient tolerances. And two, you will get a bright spot in the middle/top of the sphere and the edge will be dim because the image needs to be “stretched” to appear “flat” around the edges.

  3. Acrylic domes can be had quite affordably from your local plastics manufacturer – they are made in large numbers and are used commonly for security camera shrouds. I had some custom elliptical domes blown and cut for <$150 AUD.

  4. This is seriously cool. A planetary observatory for the solar system.

    As I happen to be looking into a flat version of an IR-based multitouch system, does anyone know any cheap sources of IR led strips? Cheapest I’ve found was $98 for 5m 3528 LEDs, including shipping. I only need a meter for a prototype-style-deal.

  5. Great project, I would love to build one at our school.
    Unfortunately the link is down, does anybody know if plans are still available out there? Or maybe there is still one of the developers out there? Thanks a lot!

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