Sandio 3D Mouse

Sandio 3D O2 MouseI’ve had the opportunity to play with the Sandio 3D O2 mouse for a few days and I thought I’d share my impressions of it with you.  Before I saw the mouse, I was expecting something similar to the SpaceNavigator, but it’s not very similar at all.

To start with (and I think this is its best feature), this functions as a normal mouse, suitable for e-mail, browsing, gaming, etc.  The SpaceNavigator, of course, is a completely separate device.  This is a pretty big deal.  I don’t usually bring my SpaceNavigator with me when I travel (it’s certainly small enough to bring – I’m just lazy), but I always bring my mouse.  Having both in one device is great.

This mouse has the normal two buttons + a scroll wheel.  Above the scroll wheel is an analog joystick, similar to those found on game pads (Xbox, PS3, etc).  On the right and left side of the mouse are two more analog sticks, and a couple more buttons.  Those analog sticks are what you use to fly around in your 3D worlds.

This mouse is billed as a “gaming mouse” and I can’t really comment on that aspect of it.  My main use for it would be in Google Earth and Virtual Earth, so that’s what I tried.

Once inside of Google Earth, I have to say I was a bit disappointed.  Part of that can be attributed to the learning curve on any new device, but it was a slow process to learn.  I found the SpaceNavigator to be much more intuitive.   Beyond that, there were two problems that were much more serious:

  • It doesn’t support simultaneous movements. For example, if I was panning across the map and wanted to dive, I had to choose one or the other.  I really don’t understand why I couldn’t pan and dive, but I tried repeatedly without success.  Compare this to the SpaceNavigator where you can make four individual movements at a time (pan while diving while rotating while lowering the view, etc).  For an example of that, check out this entry in the Google Earth Blog where Frank flies around Denver looking at the 3D buildings.
  • The analog sticks on the device aren’t truly analog – they’re digital (as in 0/1).  They have an audible “click” when pointing in any direction.  You either go or you don’t — there is no in-between.  Again, compare this to the SpaceNavigator where you can vary the amount of pressure which then varies the speed of your movement.

I really wanted to like this mouse.  It looks awesome, with a big footprint, great colors and cool glowing lights on it.  However, I just can’t bring myself to like it that much.  It will probably become my travel mouse, with my generic Microsoft Mouse / SpaceNavigator keeping permanent residence on my desk.

If you’re a gamer and you’ve tried this mouse, please post in the comments and let us know what you thought of it.

Géoportail releases 3D version

France’s National Geographic Institute has just released a 3D version of Géoportail,  a 2D web-based map that was first released last year.

It looks to be a pretty good piece of software.  The two biggest drawbacks right now are that it’s Windows only and it has no 3D buildings.  However, both of those issues should be resolved soon.

Ogle Earth has a very complete write-up about the software, including some comparisons between it and other 3D earth software.

Complete 3D model of Rome, circa 320 A.D.

This is both amazingly cool and horribly frustrating.  The Institute for the Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia has built a complete 3D model of the city of Rome as it was in 320 A.D.  “Rome Reborn”, as it’s called, is astoundingly sharp and consists of billions of data points.  FTA:

“To create the digital model, researchers scanned a 3,000 square foot, 1/250 plaster model of the city – the “Plastico di Roma Antica” – which was completed in the 1970s. Because of the model’s intricacy – the Plastico’s Coliseum is only 8 inches tall — Italian engineers used laser radar originally designed to measure precise tolerances on jet parts to scan within a tenth of a millimeter. Each 6-by-6 section contained 60 million data points.”

As of now it has only been licensed to a tour company in Rome, but they’re in talks with Second Life to bring it there.  We can only hope that it might find its way into Google Earth or one of the other digital globes one day as well.

Factory in Malaysia is offering ad space on its roof

Kumomo, a Malaysian company that owns a large factory, is offering up ad space that would be viewable in all of the various mapping systems (once the area gets updated again).  They’ll be using a company in California, RoofAds, to do the installation.

I imagine that we’ll be seeing quite a bit of this kind of thing as time goes on.  In this case, however, there are a few other issues to consider that were raised in an article by the Natural Search Blog:

1. This is apparently the factory in Google Maps – completely obscured by smoke/clouds.  If it’s a cloud, odds are pretty good that it won’t be there next time.  However, if it’s smoke from the factory then that would likely be there every time.

2. There is a good deal of child labor that occurs in Malaysia.  You’d want to make sure that this isn’t happening at the factory where your ad would be placed.

3. The ad space will go up in November.  Why then?  I can’t imagine they know when any new satellite photos will be taken.  I guess that’s just when they’ll put up the ad, and then it’ll show in GE, GM, VE, etc — eventually.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, as well as to see how many other companies try the same thing in future months.