Remote control LiDAR

lidar news report on an interesting transit project monitoring a section of tunnel twice daily to identify any internal changes to the infrastucture. The system is totally unmanaged and housed within protective casing. Upto 1Gb of data is collected and fed back via EVDO wifi modem. Whilst most lidar kit is far from being reliable, well-honed, products, this does demonstrate growing maturity in the market.

TanDEM-X Launched

TanDEM-X launched today and with it we hope the dawn of a new DEM era. The BBC have a very well written article of the mission applications, so no need to repeat it. Other than to say its a unique interferometric SAR mission employing two satellites flying in tandem with the intention of yielding a DEM of the entire surface of the Earth at 10m resolution and a vertical accuracy of 2m.

Trimble acquires Definiens

lidar news gives a bit more thought to the widely reported acquisition of Definiens eCognition by Trimble. Its an interesting purchase; object based classification that takes context and spatial attributes in to account as well as actual attribute data for object identification and feature extraction. Trimble has primarily been a surveying hardware company, although there are inevitable forays in to software. Feature extraction is getting to be big business and Definiens largely invented and capture the commercial market for it. The software is very expensive and the market place is starting to open up with ENVI and ERDAS both making products in this area. It kinda reminds me of Nokia buying Navteq.. will it be a good marriage? Who knows, but it will be interesting to see the direction it takes.

UI Design and 3D Interfaces

Remember Minority Report? That cool UI that Tom Cruise uses to interface with the computer and sort and analyse data?? Well the UI design was real at the time and early prototypes in use. John Underkoffler provides a fascinating looking at current 3D user interfaces and, as he says, its where the input and output are the same location, all built within a 3D spatial paradigm for manipulation. And the obvious early uses (as he demonstrates) are spatial which raises lots of interesting questions about future interfacing with GIS.

Preservation of (spatial) data clearinghouse

A very interesting press release last week from the Library of Congress about an NDIIP funded project on digital preservation. This is a BIG topic at the moment and causing a considerable amount of head scratching in geospatial circles. Indeed it was something I tangentially worked on as part of the GRADE Project. OK, so you have spatial data and there is much of that preserved/stored by governments. What about derived data? Or data collected as part of research projects? Is this mandated for care by individuals, research institutions, research councils??? And the data itself… what sort of format should it be stored in?? Should a file geodatabase be used? Or PostGIS? Or shapefiles? What is long lived, archivable and usable? However, if you are producing a map in ArcGIS or Illustrator, what about the layout, styles, cartographic techniques employed?? Currently people tend to store/archive PDF output, but this immediately removes the richness of the application used to create it. How do you then cope with archiving? These are really major problems and its good to see the US taking a lead in at least trying to find best practise. It will be interesting to see this develop.

Where’s my stuff??

We’re moving to a world of TOIDs…. well not, the OS implementation of TOIDs, but the idea that “objects” in the world can be, and are, interesting…. these objects are somewhere so, heck, let’s geotag them. That’s the idea behind Tale of Things. But it has a neat twist: why not give it a unique code. You could call it a TOID if you want, but they use QRCodes which are basically barcodes but can encode more data. They are 2D (rather than1D barcodes) and are increasingly being used to present information to people. Why is this useful? Well, whip your camera out, take a picture and use an app to decode it. If it contains a URL (which it does in the case of Tale of Things), your smartphone can take you straight to the site to view information (and also tell you where you are!). Digital Urban have a nice summary which is worth reading.

Is it another bit of pointless fluff? Probably. Will that stop people using another social network? No. Can it be genuinely useful? Quite possibly!