In the Urban Explorer project, we combine the world highest quality 3D maps with leading edge hardware, add data sources straight from research and create prototypes using natural interfaces. Then, we place it right in front of the actual stakeholders for testing out it's worth in real scenarios.
Modern cities are facing several major challenges that range from sustainable use of resources to threat management as well as infrastructure and services. In the Urban Explorer project, the Interactive Institute creates visualization tools with the city as the foundation. We do this in close collaboration with domain specific researchers, experts and stakeholders in order to create tools that makes a difference. If it doesn't, we learn something and try again. And again. As researchers, that's in our DNA.
What is Urban Explorer?
Urban Explorer is an applied research project focusing on the next step of map based communication. By creating prototypes together with experts in urban planning, energy design, sustainability and environments studies etc. we make sure our work stays current and relevant. We work fundamentally cross-disciplinary mainly targeting user experience, visual fidelity and connectivity. In addition to making sure the content is relevant we continuously push the borders of the technically feasible. We deploy on hardware built in our own lab, use visualization clusters and VR-technology not yet in the open market.
The project was born out of the need of visualization of extreme climate threats like rising water levels but we have since then turned our focus towards urban planning and civic dialogue. The most apparent result of our current work is the Urban Explorer Table.
Case Study: Urban Explorer Table
The Urban Planning office in the city of Norrköping wanted to further it's civic dialogue, making it easier to convey developments to the citizens of Norrköping. Urban planners have a plethora of powerful tools at their disposal but these are traditional GIS applications and usually not well suited for communicating with the general public. So, together, we started to explore and create the tools of the future. It was obvious that we wanted to work with rich data connected to a map. It was also obvious that we wanted interaction with groups of people.
The result is the Urban Explorer Table: A large multi touch surface where you can use simple and intuitive gestures to explore and evaluate various urban development projects in collaboration with your colleagues. The graphics are beautiful and lifelike, the interaction fluid and fast, the gestures natural. All in all, you touch your city. Get the grand scale overview where you can plan the city development while also be able to transition seamlessly down to view buildings and even enter individual apartments. Nothing comes between you and your city. So very simple. Immersive and direct.
Demonstration of Urban Explorer 1.0 as delivered to the city of Gothenburg