Earth: bringing our planet to life through an interactive globe and app

Earth is a kit made up of a model globe and smartphone app that uses augmented reality and artificial intelligence to teach people about the history of the world.

An interactive model globe and accompanying app have been designed, which look to teach children and adults alike about how the world has changed over time.

Earth is a new project created by California-based start-up company AstroReality, which specialise in creating astronomy-related products through 3D-printing, technology and craft.

It consists of a 3D-printed, hand-painted, polyresin globe and a smartphone app which uses augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) to teach users about the world and its “4.5 billion-year story”, from environmental factors around climate change through to geology, habitats of animals and plants, and human populations. The globe is 12cm in diameter.

The app splits topics up under six categories: animals, plants, geology, environmental, humanities and meteorology.

Using the app, people point their smartphone at the physical globe, and through AR technology, information and imagery appears on the model through the phone screen. Spinning the globe will reveal new information from around the world, and there is also a timeline function on the app, where users can scroll through to see changes to the world throughout history.

The app also has its own AI technology called Gaea, where users can use their voices to ask questions of the planet through saying “Hey, Gaea”. Answers will then be displayed on the app. For example, someone could ask “Where in the world has the most carbon dioxide emissions?” or “What is the population of London?”

AstroReality has previously embarked on a similar project called Lunar, which saw a 3D-printed model of the moon and an accompanying app.

Joanne Dai, co-founder at AstroReality, says that main aim of Earth is not only to show current trends on our planet but demonstrate how it has changed throughout time.

“We wanted to emphasise the concept of change,” she says. “Earth can show you very basic information, similar to what you could find on Google Earth, but the aspect of change throughout Earth’s history – of migration patterns, cloud formations, carbon dioxide levels and more – is the key difference with Earth.”

Dai adds that Earth is intended to be used by experts and novices, and children and adults, and can be tailored to display basic or complex information.

“We made Earth for everyone, from tech-lovers to geology enthusiasts to educators,” she says. “The model is also perfect for use in classrooms, libraries and research labs. We’re passionate about educating through art, which is why we’ve used 3D-printing and hand-painting – there’s so much to learn about our planet and we wanted to share that in the most beautiful, fun and advanced way possible.”

Earth launched on Kickstarter this week, and has already met its funding target of £22,442. Funders can still back the project until 7 July, and can pre-order it. Earth is available globally, and will start shipping in November 2018.


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  • Jake T May 25, 2018 at 5:22 am

    How is this app+globe better than Google Earth?

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