Thursday, 22 January 2009

Time Map - Some More Examples

Here are two software examples that are specifically designed to tackle the time-space-visualisation-problem. One of them is GeoTime developed by Oculus a leading and award winning provider of visualisation solutions, as they call themselves on the website. It is aiming at high end users and is as expected not cheap. The other one is a Google Code project called timeMap developed at the MIT in connection with the SIMILE project and freely available.
With GeoTime is it possible to visualize time based tracking data in an aquarium sort of way, as developed by the Lund School in the 70ties. It also uses the third dimension to show the passage of time. So spatial locations are shown as x and y and the time is shown as z coordinate. Only this month Oculus released a brand new version 4, which is said to be completely rebuilt in order to, enhance performance. Interesting could also be the Web 2.0 support. The GeoTime application does integrate with ESRI and Microsoft Products.

Image taken from GeoTime website

The really nice thing about the program, compared to the aquarium visualisations in Google Earth, is that the ground plane is interactive and can be moved in the z dimension. Effectively the plane with the spatial configuration of the surrounding represents the present and divides virtually the past from the future. What is useful is that the connection between activity on the vertically extruded path is always relatively close to the surface that displays the context information.

Image taken from GeoTime website

For information purposes Oculus has published a nice flash presentation to introduce the GeoTime software.

The open source software on the other hand is a set of code that can be used and reused. It is basically a JavaScript library and it uses the SIMILE timeline and displays on Google Maps. Different data sets can be loaded including Json and KML. It reads the location information and the time information.
The time line sis in the top part and is visualized as one or more bands that can be moved horizontally in order to move back and forward in time. The map sits below and displays by default events that are visible in the timeline frame.
By scrolling through the time bands the map adjusts. With some simple code elements it is possible to visualize data interactive.
I had a go with the data from the Christmas aquarium that I used to play with the Google Earth gadget earlier this month.
So with a bit of clipping and pasting from different examples I was able to load the KML file and have it displayed in the browser.

Image by urbanTick - Screenshot of timeMap running some urbanDiary data

There are a lot of possibilities to play around with this code. I am really looking forward to spend some time on this. It is not only the layout and the settings in the code that are exiting, but also the possibilities of integrating different data sets. The recorded tracks could for example be accomplished with some life information feed from online sources, e.g. Flicker, Twitter or News. The KML setting also need to be sorted out. The current production line for GPS track files is not very convenient.
I will try to put he version above live soon on my web space to see how it runs online. In the mean time have a look at these examples.
Timemap examples with Json data - Artists & Authors of the Renaissance, Timeline SMILIE example - The JFK Assassination Timeline.

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