Last updated on May 26, 2022
This is the design for ‘Earth’, a very simple VR representation of our beautiful planet.
It is not designed to compete with something like Google Earth or Apple Maps. It is simply intended to be beautiful to look at, giving the user a sense of really seeing the earth, and then later interacting with it to learn basic geography.
Platform : Meta Quest 2
It will be developed as a native Meta Oculus app and be free for version 1, then low cost depending on pricing models, to support ongoing development should there be user interest.
- Earth Globe, to as high quality rendering as is available, including light from sun glistening off water. Exactly what we can use is up for discussion but it should be as good as possible, to hopefully stimulate ‘the overview effect‘ in some and to be simply useful for others. It should look as good as this.
- Sun, as light source of parallel light and sun object placed far away to indicate actual distance. Relationship with the Earth will be with the sun and the sunlight to be where it is at the real-time/actual time of the user coming into VR to view the earth. When the user interacts with the earth to rotate, the sun stays in the same position so that the user can thus choose what areas are lit.
- Milky Way background, as seen from earth to be the background sphere, rendered quite dark.
- Maybe moon later.
I have built a basic earth globe to check initial scale and placement in Mozilla Hubs. It is nice but looks more like plasticine than real: Globe
I have purchased initial asset for testing: https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/vfx/shaders/planets-earth-mars-and-the-moon-17593#description
The user should be able to rotate the earth by touching it and pinching and moving it.
Interactions for scaling needs to be tested but ideally the user can pinch and pull out to enlarge and push in to make smaller.
Alternative interactions are one hand with palm open moved horizontally to rotate and two hands moved horizontally together to make smaller and bigger when moved apart.
The next version will need to appear as the first, but when user touches it, borders for what is touched show up, with name labels. As you can see in this example, on the left the user has only touched ‘Great Britain’ and on the right also ‘France’. The user can scale the globe more to see borders within the countries, as well as cities
In this version the user can choose from multiple data sets to be overlaid the globe.
User’s own travels should be possible to overlay.
User’s own pictures should be accessible by location beyond a specific scale.
& much more…
Existing Data & Code
I have the following code and data from my previous project, Interatlas, which as available for iPad a number of years ago: https://www.dropbox.com/s/83cglx30mln4blv/InterAtlas.zip?dl=0