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What does the Earth look like ? : a different visualization!

What does our beloved planet that 7 billion of us call “home” look like? Well, I am pretty sure that most of us would imagine earth to be a little blue ball floating in space or the map with mercator projection. Something like this –

earth

The beautiful little blue ball that keeps floating around the space in an interesting journey around the benevolent Sun. 7 Billion people and most of us have this image on our heads when someone says Earth. It is amazing to note the similarity in our thinking about our planet.

Although our idea about the earth is correct. Ever imagined what the planet looks like in another wavelength, say when we look at an image by a UV camera? Ever wondered how the earth looks on a map when we play around the continents and moved them around? If you are already lost in thought, then let me entertain you for the next few minutes with a awesome video from the youtube channel vsauce about “What does the earth look like?”.

“Perhaps the best 10 minute instructional video on map projections you’ll ever see. I highly recommend watching the entire video.”  – The editor-in-chief of Directions Magazine, Joe Francica

I suppose I cannot summarize it better than Mr. Francica! The video reinforces all that we know about our Earth but somehow it is so much more interesting and informative than all the other videos about the Earth and how we view it. What do you think?

Source: DirectionsMagazine

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Hudway App Turns Google Maps Into Windshield Head-up Display

hudway-hud-app

I’m always searching for cool ideas that enhance user experience of location-based apps. This time Russian start-up decided to create an app which turns your regular smartphone navi  into head-up display – feature that is typically available in premium car models. The idea behind head-up displays is to visualize the content (e.g.current speed) on the windshield (usually as a reflection) so that driver will not need to look away from the road. Nobel idea and drivers actually do like it but is your smartphone able to actually substitute such a system in your ride?

hudway_geoawesomeness

How does it work?

Hudway app claims that YES. The idea is simple. Once you select your route you lay your phone down on your dashboard (you might need an anti-slip surface such as a silicone pad) and once activated, Hudway will give you a visualization of the profile of the road ahead of you along with information like current speed, the distance to the next turn, and when you should be slowing down. It uses Google Maps API (or optionally Apple Maps… but who would use it instead…;), which is cool because it’s one of the best spatial data sources out there.

hudway_2_geoawesomeness

Issues?

There are several issues with usability of the app. On my windshield the picture was doubled… and I actually had to focus more to read it  than I usually focus on a regular navi app placed in a driving mount. Moreover what will happen when someone call you… most people actually need to reach for the phone and answer it even if they use loud speakers. If your car is equipped with a hands-free kit everything is cool… If not, reaching for a phone might be quite disrupting and as a result dangerous.

There are also several missing features which would be really a game changer. One of them is real-time traffic info. Hudway position itself in ‘drive-safe’ app category. Wouldn’t it be useful to get such an information: ‘traffic jams ahead of you, you’ll have +3 min delay’. Well the problem with that idea is that there are strong limitations for Google to offer real-time traffic layers to 3rd party apps, so guys from Hudway would have to somehow go around it.

The verdict

Is it the app of the year? No yet, but the app has just went out from beta, so I would say that it’s very promising. Definitely try out the free version before getting paid features.

The is available for free on AppStore with some simple features and for $2 you can get ‘pro’ features and for extra $1 no ads. It is supposed to arrive to Android in a few months.

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