Google EARTHWALK with Arduino at Berlin Designmai 2007





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Published on Nov 27, 2006

project description
21th May 2008

Jens Franke
Thomas Gläser

Massimo Banzi

Set of rules:
Our component acts as another input device that connects the user directly to the visualisation. We don´t use any complex technique so that our assembling isn´t prone to breakdowns. It´s a modular construction which allows its developers to build an installation with one or more foot controls.The footpads could have every function of a controller. The interface is customizable. We call our hardware „step-in".

Intentions & goals of the project:
„We wanted to bring the application out of the screen" First we tried it with Google Earth and we had much success. We have also tested „step-in" with other software including video games.

Everyone can use it, play with it and experience the feeling of controlling a large image while standing on it. Because of that fact, many people can join in on our media installation. Our construction is an eye-catcher for every public event, because visitors pay more attention to visuals that are displayed on the ground. Besides that, we found out that people start to intensify communication with each other during one person is controlling the interface. This social aspect for „step-in" is one of the pro arguments for this interaction concept. Another argument include the size of the display in comparison to a regular computer screen. We use the impression that if an image is bigger in mass than a human being, it automatically produces an impulsing affect to the viewer. „step-in" is also easy to control and people understand how they have to interact with it very quickly. It´s a simple process of playing and learning. Sometimes users tend to put much effort in their movement, so that interacting with „step-in" becomes a little fitness workout. This produces a benefit to human health that couldn´t have been achieved by a typical computer to mouse interaction.

Content of the EARTHWALK:
THE EARTHWALK represents an intuitive way to control Google Earth. The user is standing on top of the world during the exploration of the earth. The installation was created by Jens Franke (www.jensfranke.net) and Thomas Gläser (www.thomasglaeser.de). The project was carried out within the framework of the Arduino Workshop at the Design College HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd (www.hfg-gmuend.de), November 2006, under the supervision of Massimo Banzi, one of the inventors of Arduino (www.arduino.cc). In relation to Google Earth our project is a noncommercial study project. There are many other applications besides that which can be controlled by our „step-in".

Functions of the EARTHWALK:
The user navigates on the earth's surface using five footpads. The arrows represent the cardinal points as heading directions. Activation of one of the pads simultaneously with the center pad will speed up the pace of navigation. Simultaneous activation of the pads marked with plus or minus will result in zooming in and out respectively.


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