3D Visualisation: From Lab to Field
Gary Priestnall, Andy Burton, Jack March and Gemma Polmear
University of Nottingham


There are many geographical uses for 3D visualisation and an increasingly large number of ways in which people can interact with virtual environments, including via desktop applications, semi-immersive lab environments and on GPS-enabled mobile devices in the field. In this talk, we will present a number of case studies taken largely from teaching and learning contexts, where we explore ways in which people can interact with virtual worlds. Many of these studies involve using the virtual environments before, during or after field activities to augment projects based in the real world environments themselves. Several examples are taken from work currently underway as part of SpLinT (Spatial Literacy IN Teaching) a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Other examples are taken from the ‘GeoSpatial Widgets’ project funded by the Visual Learning Lab (VLL), also a HEFCE-funded CETL. The use of a semi-immersive lab-based environment to present the visual impact of proposed wind farm developments in Cumbria, NW England, is presented along with ongoing developments to support user-orientation in such environments. Equivalent exercises using Google Earth to build and visualise wind farm developments integrating GIS-derived viewshed analysis will also be presented. The relative merits of both approaches will be discussed with particular emphasis on how well they communicate the spatial context of the objects of interest. A related application developed during the GeoSpatial Widgets project is Locata, an online interactive game used to test how well people can associate 3D computer-generated views with their locations on various 2D backdrops. Developments through SpLinT to take 3D visualisation out into the field on mobile devices will also be presented. We will summarise common ground between these case studies and consider implications for some ongoing work in the area of collaborative mobile computing.

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