September 03, 2007
Navigating Virtual Worlds with 3D Navigation Devices
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Navigating Virtual Worlds with 3D Navigation Devices

by Susan Smith

In the spring, 3Dconnexion
announced that its line of 3D navigation devices were supported by the Microsoft Virtual Earth platform, enabling customers to fly through the Live Search Maps 3D world by using a controller cap instead of a mouse and keyboard. The navigation devices, such as SpaceNavigator™, allow users to navigate immersive 3D environments within a browser interface without having to switch tools to change directions or maneuver the mouse. Using one hand on the mouse to control the cursor, the other hand uses the 3D navigation device to control the viewpoint and to navigate the 3D scene or objects. These navigation
tools are popular with 3D artists and computer-aided design (CAD) professionals, but are gaining interest among the geo crowd as they make traveling through virtual environments easier.

According to the press release, “the SpaceNavigator device is a companion to the mouse and is held in the alternate hand. Users apply very slight movements to the device’s controller cap to simultaneously pan, zoom and rotate 3D objects.” The 3Dconnexion product line is supported by numerous popular 3D applications, including Adobe® Acrobat 3D, Adobe Photoshop® CS3 Extended and all major 3D CAD applications.

Ziva Nissan, director of product marketing at 3Dconnexion answered some questions about the company’s line of 3D navigation devices.

1) I thought 3Dconnexion already provided support for Virtual Earth but not specifically Live Search Maps. How is their support of Live Search Maps different from the support offered before?

ZN: 3Dconnexion announced its line of 3D mice was supported by Microsoft Live Search Maps and Virtual Earth in April 2007. Prior to this announcement, Microsoft Virtual Earth did not support the 3Dconnexion product line.

2) Do you have a breakdown on users of 3Dconnexion devices?

ZN: We don’t have a clear picture of the breakdown between Microsoft Live Search Maps, Google Earth and NASA World Wind. Predominantly 3Dconnexion sells to business, with government and consumer being less than 15% of our current customers. Yet, government and consumer purchases are growing very quickly as we build awareness of these new solutions with government, education and scientific markets.

3) As you have a number of devices, which do you recommend for which uses?

ZN: 3Dconnexion’s entire product line, including SpacePilot, SpaceExplorer, SpaceNavigator, and SpaceTraveler, is supported by numerous applications, from e frontier Poser, for 3D animation, to Adobe Acrobat 3D to Google Earth, Live Search Maps and NASA World Wind, for a wide variety of 3D design and geographic uses.

The SpaceNavigator, 3Dconnexion’s entry level 3D mouse, is the newest addition to 3Dconnexion’s product line and has a retail price of $59. SpaceNavigator is targeted at students and 3D enthusiasts using entry level 3D applications, and is the only 3D mouse offered by 3Dconnexion that supports Mac OS X based 3D applications. It also supports Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended, enabling creative professionals working with 3D objects in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended to simultaneously pan, zoom and rotate camera views and 3D objects.

The SpacePilot and SpaceExplorer offer greater productivity through pre-mapped function buttons and tight integration with complex CAD and 3D design applications. These devices automatically update function buttons when switching between applications or between modes within applications. These products are ideal for 3D professionals including design engineers, interactive designers, game developers, CG artists, and anyone who requires greater speed and productivity when designing in 3D.

SpaceTraveler is a mobile 3D mouse. SpaceTraveler’s light weight and hard travel case make it a portable companion for people doing 3D design on a laptop. It features 8 programmable function buttons that give greater access to application commands and menus.

4) I would like to see how the 3D device enhances viewing of Live Search Maps.

ZN: There is currently a video on YouTube demonstrating the SpaceNavigator on Live Search Maps, which you can

Top News of the Week

Google announced the launch of Sky, a new feature that enables users of Google Earth to view the sky as seen from planet Earth.

With Sky, users can now float through the skies via Google Earth. This easy-to-use tool enables all Earth users to view and navigate through 100 million individual stars and 200 million galaxies. High resolution imagery and informative overlays create a unique playground for visualizing and learning about space.

NAVTEQ, global provider of digital map data for location-based solutions and vehicle navigation, has announced the launch of Digital Terrain Model and Satellite Imagery which enable richer, more realistic map display in location-based and navigation applications. These are in addition to NAVTEQ's 2D Landmark Footprints, Enhanced 2D Footprints, 3D City Models and 3D Landmark products.


DigitalGlobe announced that it will partner with Bushnell Outdoor Products to enhance the navigational capabilities of the company's devices, including the industry-leading ONIX200 and next-generation ONIX200CR and ONIX400, with easy access to DigitalGlobe's vast library of satellite imagery.


Carbon Project announced its Gaia 3 software was selected to support the 2007 National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) Cooperative Agreement Program (CAP) under a project grant called “Framework NSDI and Beyond”.

The “Framework NSDI and Beyond” Project is a collaborative effort between the North Carolina Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR), the City of Charlotte, NC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), CubeWerx, The Carbon Project and the geoLeaders Network.

Azteca Systems, Inc., the provider of GIS-centric management solutions, announced that the Eighth Annual Cityworks User Conference will be held June 16-18, 2008 at the Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort in Snowbird, Utah. Pre-conference training being held on June 13 and 14 in Sandy, UT.

Attendance is open to all Cityworks customers and Business Partners and by invitation to potential customers and others. Early Bird registration information and additional details will be available online soon on the


ESRI (UK) has appointed Jackie Loudon as Customer Services Manager, Natalie Jenkins as Product Marketing Manager and Angela Baker as Community Programmes Manager.

With the recent acquisition of Earth Resource Mapping (ER Mapper),
Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging is pleased to announce that Guy Perkins, former CEO, will join the executive management team as Vice President, Global Services.

GeoDecisions’ intelligent transportation systems (ITS) staff continues to grow with the additions of Wayne G. Spaulding and Gregory L. Cross. GeoDecisions is an information technology company specializing in geospatial solutions.

UK based
Dotted Eyes is celebrating after taking on a record number of new staff.

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.


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