Sunday, February 15, 2009

The City to Scale: DigiCinci

This may be old news to some of you, but I just ran across this challenge from Google:

Click on image to view project.

Again, this concept is not new, and I'm sure they're aiming for the kind of finishing that can be seen with their recent partnership with Disney, but it's still interesting.

Even before I got into motion graphics, I always thought it would be cool to recreate Cincinnati (or any city for that matter) digitally - with fully-immersive sensory technology - where you could stroll through the past or present, smell the environment, hear the sounds, purchase goods, or just interact socially. I know, I know... starting to sound like Second Life, but I don't care for that particular setup - I've tried it, and honestly, found it a bit lonely and unproductive, and not very visually appealing.

I really used to envision this idea as a more natural way to shop for goods online - traveling through a minutely-detailed rendering of the present environment, or by recreating some era in the past, as kind of a three-dimensional journal of the city's history.

Taking it a step further, it could be a good guide to future city planning - creating conceptual environments and letting citizens live in the digital creation for awhile to test out ideas before voting on them... like the streetcar, light rail, or even the subway (which I'm creating a narrative around right now). And yes, architects already do this through AutoCAD (and the like) for presentations of their constructions, but they don't offer it like this...

Immersive Cocoon by Tino Schaedler.
Click image to visit site, or read more here.

...or with this.

"Automatically adjusting media display in a personal display system."
Apple Patent (11/6/2008).
Source: Mac Rumors and US Patent & Trademark Office.

Gaming is already carving its way to this kind of realization, and VR is consitently making headway into our everyday lives, which is why I personally haven't pursued this concept any further (not to mention the huge amounts of unpaid time and energy it would take to model and write, plus store and process everything). Plus, bigger fish have already tested the waters: Disney's research in this area (specifically, Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride at DisneyQuest) and the whole "Smell-O-Vision" concept has been tried again and again (which again Disney has used in multiple attractions, esp. seen in my favorite 3D, dioramic visualizor, Horizons). Not to mention the many other independents who have waded here (just Google 'em - there are multitudes of articles floating around, for example).

Anyway, this Cincinnati vision of mine is currently all pie-in-sky, but it's a concept that I know will come to fruition sooner rather than later. Hey, Hollywood said it would, and we all know that art imitates life... and predicts the future.

For now though, I think I'll go take a stroll through the Public Landing at CMC's History Museum.

• Other recent articles on this note at Wired, and one of my favorite blogs, RetroFuture.

UPDATE (3/6/9): This article arrived in my mailbox today.


Quimbob said...

Is anything happening with X3d these days ?

Matt said...

nothing new that I've seen, Quim, but that wouldn't be my area of expertise anyway. I would like to see something like this happen, though.