On December 15th, End Point presented the Liquid Galaxy at New York Tech Meetup, the largest meetup group in the world. End Point Co-Founder/President Ben Goldstein and I gave a five minute overview and then answered questions from the audience for another five minutes. At the conclusion of the presentation portion of the event, attendees went to the after-party, where we had a full Liquid Galaxy system set up for attendees to experience for themselves.
I opened up the presentation by speaking about where the Liquid Galaxy is being utilized (corporate offices, museums, and commercial enterprises around the world), and about the setup of the system (large paneled HDTVs, a touchscreen, 3D joystick, and 3 rack-mount servers). I talked about how the Liquid Galaxy was originally a tool designed to view Google Earth in an immersive setting, but from there End Point has expanded the Liquid Galaxy’s capabilities to make it a tool for educational and commercial use, marketing, sales, and research.
I went on to explain how End Point’s Content Management System gives users the ability to tell their story and show information and data points on the system. You easily can include images, panoramic videos, KML and other sorts of overlays. By using your company’s GIS (Geographic Information System) data, you have an entirely new way of visualizing data, 3D models, and presenting demographic and other critical information to your target audience, while still providing the excitement of the immersive experience. This includes things like population density, property value data, bar graphs and more.
I closed by explaining how each of the screens is being calculated to match the physical angle of the display. When those displays are put in an arch around the viewers, the sense of immersion and depth comes alive to the point of giving a real sense of flight and place.
From here, Ben G. touched on some of the more technical elements of the Liquid Galaxy. He explained that the main applications running on the Liquid Galaxy are Google Earth, Street View, a local panoramic still image and video viewer, and End Point’s Content Management System.
Ben G. discussed remote support, and how when End Point deploys a new system, it monitors the system in a variety of ways, one of which is with screen captures. Screenshots are generated so End Point can see remotely what its customers are seeing on the ground.
Ben G. finished the talk by explaining the architecture of the typical Liquid Galaxy systems. The physical architecture has a headnode and a number of display nodes. The head node is plugged into the network and it serves as a NATing router for the display nodes which run on an internal LAN. The display nodes are blank machines that netboot from an ISO on the headnode. This makes it easy to remotely upgrade a system. End Point support personnel generate a new ISO on the headnode and restart the display nodes remotely.
Q&A SessionAfter our presentation, Ben G. and I were asked questions about the Liquid Galaxy. Some highlights:
- "How does the Liquid Galaxy fit in the context of AR and VR?" Ben G. explained that one thing that distinguishes the Liquid Galaxy is the communal experience. Often with VR, the user is having an individual experience. We foresee combining with the LG with a VR headset, so that you will be able to display what you’re seeing on the headset right onto the LG.
- "How is End Point engaging content creators for the platform?" There is a big, vibrant community that we want to integrate with. For a simple but useful example, cell phones can generate panoramas, which can be dropped into the CMS.
- "Can you use the Liquid Galaxy to map an emergency before and after the event?" Ben G: Absolutely. We think the LG is an excellent display platform to show events as they are occurring. One of the things that’s great is the Liquid Galaxy takes in your peripheral vision, so if you have a spherical or panoramic collection tool then you can really see it on the system.
- "How close to live data can you get?" The Liquid Galaxy is primarily being run with Google Earth at the moment. You can incorporate panoramic images, depending on what your data source is. If you’d like to incorporate a panoramic webcam, your info can display instantaneously on the LG.
During the after-party, attendees had the opportunity to free fly on the Liquid Galaxy, to view presentations, and to navigate around on Street View. Six members of End Point’s team were present, so attendees also had the opportunity to ask questions and to learn more about the system.