Why virtual terrain?
Lots of uses...
- Virtual tourism & travel planning
- Education: geographical & general reference
- Planning: land planning / land
usage, urban planning
- Civil engineering, telecommunications, utilities, and other infrastructure
- Visualization of weather and
other environmental attributes
- Real Estate
- Games and entertainment
- Communications: radio/TV/cellular transmitter placement and signal analysis
- Public participation in land management
Virtual reality solutions to coastal erosion (UK, 2002) - "application of VRGIS
can stimulate meaningful discussion and dialogue between groups traditionally
associated with conflicting opinions."
- The Israeli company Skyline has
a good list of
and applications for their Terra engine.
- Another Israeli company, GeoSim
specializes in cities, with its own list of
Urban Infrastructure, Tourism/Travel, Real Estate, Security/Defense, Entertainment,
- The UK services firm
Skape lists uses in 2009 as "Architecture, Building Development,
Planning Consultation, Environmental Consultation, Surveying, Marketing and
advertising, Highways maintenance, Facilities management, Emergency
services, Engineering, Local authorities, CAD design & visualisation".
- Small areas of virtual terrain are called
"Digital Terrain Modeling" by professionals in the civil engineering, landscaping,
surveying and construction industries
- The Defense Industry has always recognized
the importance of virtual terrain.
- they use terms like "Automatic Population of Geospatial Databases"
- the line between military and entertainment is blurring, e.g. the
Open Skies system claims to "show
great promise as an actual training system as well as a unique and
Vision and Hype
Google moves into virtual worlds, Business 2.0, May 2006
"You can already download user-generated layers that sit on top of Google's
3-D Earth and show you, for example, the location of celebrity houses or hiking
trails or famous landmarks. One dating service has even started showing people
looking for partners as a Google Earth layer. Real estate companies have
started showing off virtual versions of their buildings (for sale in the real
world) [...] There are, in short, many more opportunities in a virtual version
of the real world than in an entirely fantastical world."
- SRI called the idea "Digital
"Imagine being able to walk down the streets of Paris, seeing the sights and
hearing the sounds around you, without leaving your home. You are able to converse
with a friend who is also online, and the two of you decide to fly to Tahiti
together. As you travel around the globe, you stop momentarily at places
of interest to view three-dimensional (3D) representations of local structures,
learn about representative works of art, browse historical information for the
area, or view real-time video and audio feeds of local events. Apart from
its entertainment value, the educational, environmental, and societal benefits
of such a facility are enormous."
- Research Triangle Institute evangelized
the uses: Virtual Reality for Terrain Visualization
"Groups having such needs are the military who plan attacks across a battlefield,
urban planners who are concerned with environmental impacts over a long period
of time, golf course designers, architects, and many others. [...] Virtual Reality
unlocks terrain planners from simply dealing with paper charts and other visual
- Professor Willem van Riet, South
"This what makes the challenges of illustration information in 3 or even 4 dimensions
so exiting as I have found in the decision taking field that politicians operate
in 3D is far more real than two dimensions. Even unsophisticated tribesmen will
snap to 3D much faster than two dimensional maps where scale is often a difficult
- Vice President Al Gore wrote at great length about the importance of virtual
Earth: Understanding our planet in the 21st Century
(January 31, 1998)
"I believe we need... a multi-resolution, three-dimensional representation of
the planet, into which we can embed vast quantities of geo-referenced
- Professor Bill Ribarsky calls it
"What do travel agents, emergency response teams, urban festival planners,
history and geography teachers, safari leaders, game designers, environmental
scientists, chambers of commerce, landscape architects, real estate professionals,
civil engineers, whitewater enthusiasts, architects, park service employees,
city planners, environmental czars, and curious kids have in common?
They all need Virtual Landscapes."
- Press quote from Cambridge Research Associates:
"The accuracy of PowerScene was demonstrated at the Bosnian Peace Summit
in Dayton, Ohio where it was employed to both negotiate and draw actual borders.
By providing a photo-realistic 3D representation of the territories in contention,
PowerScene quelled border disputes and enabled participants to focus on the
- From Wired
5.10, October '97: 'Killer Apps'
"The killer app Oliver Morton alludes to in "Private Spy" (Wired
5.08, page 114) requires one crucial component not mentioned in the article-
elevation post data over which the 2-D images can be draped. Combining
elevation information with satellite imagery for real-time visualization on
a PC with inexpensive graphics accelerators will open up vast markets.
Gamers can choose to play in real virtual worlds, while builders and
real estate agents can walk through housing developments anywhere in the world.
The killer app will be free, and the imagery and elevation data will be accessible
over the Web for nominal charges."
W. Garth Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org
Digital Mapping Paying Off in South Australia
"Imagine a single three-dimensional map of your neighborhood
including everything from telephone poles to water pipes, electoral boundaries
to subsurface geology... Couple that with the emergence of new kinds of analytical
software, and you get a rough idea of the potential value of geographic information
systems, an industry expected to grow immensely in coming years."
Private Eyes, New York Times Magazine 1999.09.05
"By taking a "3-D fly-through of Yellowstone Park," you
could choose the most scenic trail before leaving home. Or maybe you're in the
real-estate market, scouring the hills for choice acreage."
- From 3dvillage.com:
"Enables visitors to Walk the World by providing an active 3D environment that
is engaging, entertaining and informative. With 3D Walking Tours, users can
explore all the amenities a location has to offer, book or upgrade a hotel room,
make dinner reservations and truly immerse themselves in local sites and attractions."