Other Technology

Global Situational Awareness

Google Earth apparently isn’t enough for the military. Defence contractor DRS Technologies was demonstrating this military-grade touchscreen geospatial interface — the correct term is apparently “global situational awareness” — at a recent Navy League conference; this video features engineer Michael Bridges giving a demo. Defense Tech describes it: “[I]t’s a geospatial information system that also allows sharing of data from almost any source — UAV videos, schematics, photos, SAR, IR etc. — on a pretty simple touchscreen. The imported data can be overlaid on the geospatial data and used for mission planning and a host of other applications. … [Y]ou can call up a region and slap on it overlay after overlay, showing you topography, elevation, streets and highways. If you don’t like a bird’s eye view, he’ll flip the image on its side, any side.” Via Gizmodo.

Very Very Small Maps of Hong Kong

KeyMap and CardMap How small can a map be and still be legible? ZoomMap.org, a spinoff of the Hong Kong-based Universal Publications Ltd., is publishing some very small maps indeed. Douglas Li of ZoomMap writes:

[W]e create and publish miniature maps — magnifiable up to 50× — of various areas in Hong Kong and China. When I say miniature, I mean tiny, on the scale of saying “a fistful of maps.” They are provided in two different sizes (KeyMap: 150mm × 230mm and CardMap: 235mm × 355mm), and go for about $25 and $35 Hong Kong Dollars, which converts to $3.3 and $4.6 CAD, respectively.
I believe they’re the smallest professional maps of its kind, as nobody else ever decided to make such small city maps before. They’re in full detail, which means that they contain all the information available on commonly larger maps. When folded, the KeyMap is about the size of a key, while the CardMap is about the size of most credit cards.
They come with a magnifying glass with 2.5× and 4× zoom, as well as a protective PVC cover to protect both the map and the magnifying glass.

Links added. The maps aren’t available overseas, but the concept is very interesting: the smaller a map physically is, the more likely you’ll take it with you. Whether it’s usable in practical terms is another question.

Panamap, Formerly Dynamap, Available Soon

Panamap It’s been a long time, but the mapping technology that was first presented under the name Dynamap in 2004 has finally left the realm of vapourware and will very shortly result in a shipping product. Well, two products, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Oh, and there’s a new name (or at least new since 2005), too: Panamap. Again, tilting the map yields different views of the city: streets, boroughs, transit. Urban Planning will ship maps of Chicago and Manhattan later this month, they say. Via La Cartoteca.

Previously: The Dynamap; Urban Mapping (Was: Dynamap).

Haptic Weather Maps

Turkish researchers are applying haptics to weather maps, allowing map users to “feel” climate data represented on the map, the New Scientist reported last March:

The system converts climate data into forces that a person can feel using a haptic device in the form of a robotic arm with a joystick on the end. …
The haptic controller can guide a person’s hand along contours representing areas of high air pressure, or push and pull on their hand to represent shifting winds as the user moves their cursor over the map. Vortices of rising, swirling air are experienced as if the user’s hand is attached to a spring pulling it upwards.

Essentially, the problem is that weather maps can show too much data at once; adding a tactile component allows for more information to be presented with less confusion. Via Vector One.

Previously: Virtual 3D Maps for the Blind.

Kenwood’s Pen Navigation System

Kenwood thingy (AVING) Kenwood announced a pen navigation system at the Tokyo Motor Show: details are sparse (see also Coolest Gadgets and Engadget), but it seems to involve a pen that, when scanned over a paper map, transmits data wirelessly to a GPS system. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how this works — does it require special, machine-readable maps? — or what problem, exactly, this solves (if any).

Augmented Maps: Combining Tech and Paper

Brandon writes in about this New Scientist article about “augmented maps,” where real-time information is projected onto paper maps: This was an interesting article on combining multimedia and advanced technologies with hard copy maps for emergency situations. Having been involved…  •  Continue reading this entry.

Urban Mapping (Was: Dynamap)

John Resig points us to this article in Directions about Urban Mapping’s neato Cracker Jack-box mapping technology — which was covered here a year ago when it was called “Dynamap”. (The old site is completely gone, and they haven’t forwarded…  •  Continue reading this entry.


Have you ever wondered what would happen if a topo map mated with a pop-up book? No, you probably haven’t; you’re not that strange. I don’t know where these guys got the idea to make pop-up topographical maps for…  •  Continue reading this entry.

The Dynamap

Here’s something neat: Urban Mapping’s “Dynamap” technology, which uses interlaced images to show different maps depending on the angle at which the surface is viewed. In this case, Manhattan’s streets, neighbourhoods and subway systems. There’s an instructive Flash demo. About…  •  Continue reading this entry.