Physical Space Tweets: Pst! microCONTROL

Pst! is the surreptitious beckoning of attention and the acronym for Physical Space Tweets. It is a small Ardunio storyteller installed in public space giving an audience a glimpse into a geo-tagged community’s topic feed.

For the Leeds Pavillion at Mediamatic’s Amsterdam Biennale 2009 Pst! chronicled life in Leeds through it’s twitter feed.

Pst! microCONTROL from Megan Leigh Smith on Vimeo.

The piece locates a public social narrative by pulling an information feed from Twitter User profiles geographically aligned to Leeds with Twitter’s geocode API and then prints this information onto a mini LCD screen. By removing the peripheral of the computer a Pst! device can be placed in a non-space providing a window directly into a geo-located public space.

See http://megansmith.ca/blog/?tag=arduino for more info.

Author Bio

Andy is Professor of Digital Urban Systems at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London.

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Google Earth Killer (again)

CNet have a great video of the new Skyline Globe software. According to their press release Skyline Globe will have unique features such as community and collaboration tools, realistic 3D cities, live video and open interfaces to create a powerful platform.

Interestingly the 3D models seem to be supplied by Planet9 which some may remember from the old days of building cities in VRML2.0.

The Video is impressive but as with unofficial view of ESRI that Google Earth is the new Netsape the additional take that Skyline is a Google Earth beater maybe premature. Their TerraExplorer software was interesting but blocked off to the outside world wanting to develop models.

We met with Skyline a few years ago and were informed (in no uncertain terms) that we could not use their software in any way shape or form to import models unless we signed up. Skyline Globe seems to have free tools but it will be interesting to see how open to the development community they now are.

Interesting times ahead but I think we can be sure that Google are looking into video on terrain and buildings asap. If they can link it in with Flash and YouTube we know which software we will be running with.

Author Bio

Andy is Professor of Digital Urban Systems at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London.

1 Comment

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Streaming Urban Data – YouTube Live

The increasingly availability of bandwidth along with advances in computer hardware and Internet services is making it possible to stream HD content, live from multiple places. Traditionally the first port of contact for urban data is a web page and with that comes various issues of compatibility and the ability to communicate live urban data within a singe interface. The CASA city dashboard (citydashboard.org) was developed over 4 years ago and represented the current state of play in live data.

Citydashboard.org

Citydashboard

Yet city data should perhaps be a true ‘window on the world’ and with this comes the need for a streaming video with the potential to overlay data. As ever on digital urban we use our live weather feed for prototyping systems, as its a data set that is easy to hand and also provides a range of display options.

Weather Dashboard

Weather Data Dashboard

Our weather dashboard provides data updates every 2 seconds from our Davis Pro station on the roof off Tottenham Court Road, London. It includes live graphs and gauges (via highcharts) as well an historical view of data, yet the traditional webcam view of the actual physical view of the data has always been lacking. Streaming HD video content onto the web, 24 hours a day and in a format accessible across multiple platforms has until now been problematic. This is where YouTube Live comes in, currently in beta, the system allows a simple feed from a webcam (in our case a Logitech 930e) to be streamed live, along with additional overlays to provide realtime condition updates. It is not a case of simply pointing you camera to YouTube however, the encoding needs be carried out on the host machine and then streamed to YouTube for distribution. There are a number of options (see YouTube Encoding), having tried them all out we settled on Xsplit as the best current system:

Encoding and Overlaying Data

Encoding and Overlaying Data

Our stream runs at 720p, 30fps with an HTML overlay taken directly from the main weather landing page. This allows the current conditions to be viewed in realtime, the move to 30fps and HD makes a notable difference – it creates a window into the world, updating in realtime and providing a smooth, natural view of the city, you can view the stream direct below:

The stream is aimed at viewing fullscreen – 720p has its limitations but is a current balance. The system accepts a 1080p feed but the encoding machine takes a notable hit on processing power. With a 24/7 feed we opted for the balance of a smooth stream and medium demands on machine capacity. Bandwidth is of course all important, the feed is coming direct from a home based fibre option feed, offering 500mb uploads over wifi and unlimited data. It is this option that is opening up the ability to create data windows on the world and perhaps a true view of the city in realtime.

Author Bio

Andy is Professor of Digital Urban Systems at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London.

2 Comments

  1. Jc - February 5, 2016

    Very good webcam, can i embed Nexstorm?

  2. Paul R. Pival (@ppival) - April 15, 2016

    Very neat! Can you explain how you got the weather overlay to work? If I found a Cumulus page showing weather nearby to my current streaming camera, could I overlay information from that page, or does it have to be running on the same computer?

    TIA!

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The increasingly availability of bandwidth along with advances in computer hardware and Internet services is making it possible to stream HD content, live from multiple places. Traditionally the first port of contact for urban data is a web page and with that comes various issues of compatibility and the ability to communicate live urban data within a singe interface. The CASA city dashboard (citydashboard.org) was developed over 4 years ago and represented the current state of play in live data.

Citydashboard.org

Citydashboard

Yet city data should perhaps be a true ‘window on the world’ and with this comes the need for a streaming video with the potential to overlay data. As ever on digital urban we use our live weather feed for prototyping systems, as its a data set that is easy to hand and also provides a range of display options.

Weather Dashboard

Weather Data Dashboard

Our weather dashboard provides data updates every 2 seconds from our Davis Pro station on the roof off Tottenham Court Road, London. It includes live graphs and gauges (via highcharts) as well an historical view of data, yet the traditional webcam view of the actual physical view of the data has always been lacking. Streaming HD video content onto the web, 24 hours a day and in a format accessible across multiple platforms has until now been problematic. This is where YouTube Live comes in, currently in beta, the system allows a simple feed from a webcam (in our case a Logitech 930e) to be streamed live, along with additional overlays to provide realtime condition updates. It is not a case of simply pointing you camera to YouTube however, the encoding needs be carried out on the host machine and then streamed to YouTube for distribution. There are a number of options (see YouTube Encoding), having tried them all out we settled on Xsplit as the best current system:

Encoding and Overlaying Data

Encoding and Overlaying Data

Our stream runs at 720p, 30fps with an HTML overlay taken directly from the main weather landing page. This allows the current conditions to be viewed in realtime, the move to 30fps and HD makes a notable difference – it creates a window into the world, updating in realtime and providing a smooth, natural view of the city, you can view the stream direct below:

The stream is aimed at viewing fullscreen – 720p has its limitations but is a current balance. The system accepts a 1080p feed but the encoding machine takes a notable hit on processing power. With a 24/7 feed we opted for the balance of a smooth stream and medium demands on machine capacity. Bandwidth is of course all important, the feed is coming direct from a home based fibre option feed, offering 500mb uploads over wifi and unlimited data. It is this option that is opening up the ability to create data windows on the world and perhaps a true view of the city in realtime.

Author Bio

Andy is Professor of Digital Urban Systems at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London.

Leave a Reply

We are making some cosmetic changes to Digital Urban, one of which is a ‘Best Of’ section. With over 800 posts its easy to lose some of the most read/commented entries so some time next week we will have the ‘Best Off’ section up and running…

Till then its down to the normal links on the right hand side.

Author Bio

Andy is Professor of Digital Urban Systems at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London.

3 Comments

  1. Phototelegrapher - September 7, 2005

    This blog is wonderful, and the panoramas are spectacular. There are not many comments, and some appear to be spam. Don’t let that discourage you. Keep up the excellent work. I have a link to you on my blog to help attract other readers.

  2. Smithee - September 19, 2005

    Thanks for that 🙂 its true to hard to get people to leave comments..

  3. Brian - September 27, 2005

    Really great work. Was led here searching for panoramas and will now be watching to see what you do in the future. Keep it up!

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