This design science solution is inspired by Buckminster
Fuller's concept for a Geoscope. It was submitted as an application for the
Buckminster Fuller Challenge on October 30 2007.
On January 11, 2008 my entry advanced to
the second stage of the selection process.
FULLY TRANSPORTABLE DIGITAL DOME WITH
OUTSIDE-IN PROJECTION SYSTEM FOR GEOSCOPE MULTI-DIMENSIONAL DATA VISUALIZATION
Problem and Preferred State
This design science solution offers an innovative method for projecting data
on a half-sphere (full-dome) Geoscope. The intent is to realize the Geoscope
vision of R. Buckminster Fuller as stated in his book Critical Path, “With the
Geoscope humanity would be able to recognize formerly invisible patterns and
thereby to forecast and plan in vastly greater magnitude than heretofore.”
Fuller correctly anticipated trends in science supporting the need to visualize
complex information for the resolution of critical globe spanning issues.
However, Fuller’s Geoscope design for a suspended, computer-controlled, globe
for large audiences remains mostly unfulfilled.
Recent technology advancements includ virtual globes (for example Google
Earth) and digital dome projection systems. There are more than 250 digital dome
planetariums in the US alone. Their inside-out viewing capabilities are
inspiring. Complete digital dome systems cost a fraction of what Fuller
estimated for a large-scale Geoscope in 1962. However, an outside-in viewable,
suspended Geoscope awaits a first-time practical implementation in the solution
Trends in technology now make available proven and low-cost components
required to implement a Geoscope on the scale of a high-school basketball court.
For example, at the Intel Rio Grande Innovation Centre, where I am Director, we
have an integrated display using nine LCD screens controlled by a single
powerful desktop computer. Similar computer hardware can be adapted to create a
small scale Geoscope.
In my solution a Geoscope is implemented in accordance with holistic systems
thinking using a full-dome projection system mounted on a fully-transportable,
light-weight self-deploying frame. Small, powerful projectors are arranged
symmetrically around the outside of a translucent dome to enable a
high-resolution, dynamic display of complex, Earth spanning, data sets.
Attached images show the Geoscope deployed on an indoor high-school
basketball court. A large audience is capable of viewing hemispherical
projections of the Earth nearly unobstructed. Because projectors are outside of
the dome projecting inward, the interior of the dome is completely unobstructed
for a small number of occupants to participate in a 360-degree immersive
Complimenting the holistic systems approach, a novel spherical metaphor for
multi-dimensional data visualization on the Geoscope shall be developed using
PROCESSING open source programming language (
www.processing.org ). A spherical
metaphor, or to coin a term “Spheriphor,” addresses the need for displaying data
that is not necessarily geo-referenced.
Visualizing geo-referenced data overlaid on virtual Earth globes has enormous
benefit. However, the Spheriphor software application running on the Geoscope
offers an additional opportunity to visualize high-density, multi-dimensional
data with non-GIS metaphors. See my technology demonstration to the 5th
International Symposium on Digital (ISDE5) on my website at:
A 3D animation on YouTube demonstrates the solution
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neeC23RW1B0 The animation and the
attached images illustrate the meta-physical Spheriphor design implemented on
the physical Geoscope thus creating a cognitively empowering environment. The
intent is to enhance humans’ ability to interface with multi-dimensional data
sets using a full-dome, outside-in, projection system.
The Spheriphor improves upon spreadsheet charts that use mostly rectangular,
flat display formats. The Geoscope alleviates inside-the-box, constrained
thinking using a Cartesian framework to visualize data. The Spheriphor opens a
door to a new world of rich visual metaphors based on spherical geodesic
geometry and a Whole Systems Framework.
A Spheriphor instantiation provides a project tracking interface for the
Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) Design Revolution Project Library. BFI tracks
a large number of design artifacts ranging from micro-cosmic nanostructures to
macro-cosmic global infrastructure solutions. The Spheriphor application
empowers the Design Science Revolution and the Design Science Planning Process
by making visible heretofore non-visible patterns of rapidly advancing
technology in a multi-person, collaborative and educational environments.
The BFI Design Revolution Project Library Spheriphor uses spherical
coordinates to visualize multi-dimensional data on the Geoscope. In this
instantiation, phi φ (zenith angle or latitude) represents the Design Science
Planning phase. The Define Problem phase is close to zenith and the Develop
Artifacts phase is close to the horizon. Theta θ (azimuth angle or longitude)
represents the macro-to-micro scale of the design artifact.
Description Of Solution And Implementation Plan
Anticipating the recent trend in digital projection and computer-controlled,
servo technology, a design solution for a fully-transportable, self-deploying,
outside-in viewable, digital dome for large audiences is now obtainable with
commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components. The plan is to implement a system
configuration of COTS components wherever possible to reduce cost, enable easy
replication and encourage broad adoption.
The solution uses multiple high-resolution, compact, high-intensity
projectors controlled by a powerful desktop computer. Combined image resolution
with current off-the-shelf technology is approximately 8-10 megapixels.
A fully-articulated framework supports the dome projection system. Projectors
are symmetrically positioned around the outside of a translucent dome. The dome,
approximately 3.4 meters in diameter, is hung from the same frame. The framework
is self-deploying on a smooth floor
The plan uses relatively low-cost COTS computer-controlled servos. The
framework of light weight aluminum extrusion has hinged and sliding joints that
are manipulated using these servos. The servos enable the framework to assume a
variety of geometries.
One configuration arranges the projectors symmetrically around the exterior
of a translucent dome suspended at the volumetric center of the framework.
Another configuration positions the projectors at a uniform height pointing
downward onto a large Fuller Dymaxion map. In this way, the Geoscope adds value
to the BFI Design Science Lab which already uses such a map in its educational
program. The large Dymaxion map will gain an interactive, dynamic data set
projected onto its surface.
The entire framework when deployed to support full-dome projection is 10.6
meters in diameter. A wheeled base enables the framework to roll on a smooth
floor. In the folded state it encompasses a small volume which is easily
Sliding joints provide a method of adjusting the dome height. Adjustment of
the dome height accommodates a variety of different venues; from an intimate,
fully-immersive venue with viewers situated beneath the dome, to venues with
large audiences viewing the dome from the outside.
The design solution locates projectors omni-symmetrically around the exterior
of a translucent dome at a calculated minimum radial distance from the dome
surface thereby optimizing projection characteristics for a dome of this size.
Projection areas are based on a geodesic spherical polyhedron which offers
several benefits including simplified UV mapping, minimal projection area
overlap feathering, and optimized pixel resolution.
Financing And Economic Viability
I am Director of the Intel Innovation Centre in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The
objective of the centre is to encourage and support the introduction
leading-edge products, solutions and usage models. The centre is expected to
reach out to the community and 50% of all projects are ideally in collaboration
with external entities. I have also built a visualization lab whose mission
aligns perfectly with this project.
Should I receive the award then matching funds are possible from various
Intel R&D sources. An Intel colleague, Luciano Oviedo is currently discussing
funding options with Intel Capital and the University of New Mexico Science &
Intel Information Technology employees are encouraged to volunteer time and
talent to implement out-of-the-box thinking and solutions through a Risk Taking
and Innovation (RTI) program. Funds are available to employees supporting their
RTI initiatives. A good possibility exists that RTI program participants will
volunteer help for the design, development and implementation of this solution.
Hardware and software design shall be completely open source thereby
facilitating critical assessment and rigorous testing by subject matter experts,
and will further long-term evolution and viability of the design.
- University of New Mexico:
- $10K Faculty Buy-Out/Management
- $20K Architecture Student Employees
- $5K ARTS Lab Employee
- $5K Storage Facility/Workspace
- $35-45K Materials and Supplies
- Project Manager:
- Eric Whitmore, Program Coordinator, University of New Mexico, Art Research
Technology Science (ARTS) Laboratory. A leader in new media strategic
development. Recently nominated by the New Mexico Information Technology and
Software Association (NMITSA) as a 2007 IT Excellence Award Finalist. The ARTS
Lab has an experimental 15 foot diameter Sky Skan digital dome.
- Tim Castillo, Assistant Professor, University of New Mexico, College of
Architecture and Planning. Won the Association of Collegiate Schools of
Architecture (ACSA) 2006-2007 New Faculty Teaching Award. The College of
Architecture is a resource to hire students with access to a CNC milling machine
and a Laser Cutter for rapid prototyping.
- Luciano Oviedo, Program/Project Manager, Intel Corporation. Founder of the
New Mexico chapter of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs. Partnering with
http://www.highdesertventurecamp.com to provide a "business plan bootcamp"
training entrepreneurs on taking an idea to venture in a structured/methodical
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The following six images are thumbnails which link to larger images.
High-resolution versions of these six images were uploaded to the Buckminster
Fuller Challenge application.
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