How can we transform climate data into personal and interactive experiences?
GlacialPace depicts a glacier's retreat over the past 30 years from a first-person perspective. Viewers can explore the shifting Arctic landscape from 1985 to 2015 in a virtual environment.
A live prototype can be viewed at http://ixdavid.github.io/
The project inspired us to launch Catalog.Earth, and in May of 2017, we will be traveling to Alaska to document the Columbia Glacier in its current state with 360 media.
The project was designed and built using three.js and WebVR.
Using NASA's documentation of the Prince William Sound in southeastern Alaska, we created high-resolution 360 models of the Columbia Glacier in 5 year increments.
The landscapes rotate through an array of skybox images, which I stitched based on satellite images and NASA's Columbia glacier model for Google Earth. Each skybox image is constructed in the shape of a "t", which is folded around the camera position / virtual point of view like a box.
We intended to slowly transition between skyboxes by reducing the opacity of the visible image, while increasing the opacity of the image on deck. However, we ran into some issues the shader used to blend the image into a 360 model in three.js...)
The struggle is real. Featuring pained teammate Saba Singh, skybox models, and our fearless leader/instructor Jeff Gray.
While writing the initial the program, we included a sphere near the mouth of the glacier as a point of reference during the design process. As we tested the experience with users, we found that viewers appreciated a visual marker to identify locations beyond the shifting landscape images. Thus, we included a bobbing red buoy, which will become an increasingly interactive component of the experience.