Move Over iPad, the Digital Globe Has Arrived

Can dynamic digital globes compete with flatter technologies like today’s iPad? Mark Vanhoenacker explores some of the possibilities these modern spheres may bring to places of work, study and play.

2 minute read

January 11, 2013, 10:00 AM PST

By Erica Gutiérrez


Vanhoenacker reports on the seemingly infinite possibilities of new and increasingly more affordable three-dimensional technologies that could be useful for what seems like anyone and everywhere. He writes, “Until recently, cost and technical limitations have largely confined these modern spheres to institutional settings like science centers. But as technology improves and prices fall, it’s growing more likely that a digital orb will someday arrive in a classroom or boardroom — even a living room — near you.”

He explains, "[l]ike the old-school globes once common in classrooms, digital globes vary in size… [b]ut [u]nlike the globes of your childhood, the image on a digital globe can be changed with the touch of a button.” These new globes are obviously useful in the fields of earth and atmospheric sciences, but are also being used to teach social sciences in classrooms in China, and could potentially be useful to a range of fields including data modeling.

The digital globes that are becoming more accessible today utilize internal projectors. These, however, are imperfect, with some lighting and structural issues, as well as costly, with prices ranging from about $21,000 to $43,000 for 24 to 32-inch diameter models. “Mike Foody, the C.E.O. of Global Imagination, says that he hopes to have education-discounted prices down to $2,500 within a year or two.” Vanhoenacker adds, “If he succeeds, that would be within the price point of other high-tech classroom equipment, like interactive whiteboards.” For many students, this may translate into greater learning opportunities.

Still other opportunities exist for businessmen and for the average joe. Corporations could, for example, use digital globes for "summarizing sales data or market penetration, say, or resource allocation, or the locations of globe-trotting team members." "[D]igital globes may find the most unlimited potential" in the home, concludes Vanhoenacker, adding, "[t]hink too, of music visualizations, digital aquariums, geotagged vacation photos, real-time flight tracking of your spouse’s trip, [and] Risk-style 'board' games."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 in New York Times

View of Mount Hood at golden hour with Happy Valley, Oregon homes in foreground.

Clackamas County Votes to Allow ADUs, Residential RVs

County officials hope the zoning changes will help boost the housing supply in the region.

June 18, 2024 - Mountain Times

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

View of Palos Verdes Drive along Pacific Ocean in Palos Verdes, California at sunset.

Erosion Threatens SoCal Road, Lloyd Wright Icon

The city of Palos Verdes is closing parts of a roadway to cyclists, citing safety concerns as the land underneath moves between 7 and 12 inches per week.

June 23 - Daily Breeze

Faded image of vacant storefront in rural area with American flag stars painteind on windows.

COVID Isn’t to Blame for the Retail Vacancy Crisis

A drop in demand for retail space began well before the seismic shifts of the pandemic.

June 23 - Slate

Heavy New York City traffic headed toward Holland Tunnel in Manhattan.

Judge Rules in Favor of MTA in Congestion Pricing Suit

Advocates of the program are calling on Gov. Hochul to reinstate the program in light of the decision.

June 23 - StreetsBlog NYC

City Planner I

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner II

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner Supervisor

Department of Housing and Community Development

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.