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Geovisualización (GeoViz)

Geovisualization (GeoViz) refers to techniques facilitating analysis, exploration and communication of geospatial information through interactive visualization. These techniques have been developed at the interface of different disciplines like cartography, GISciene, information visualization and, recently, research on virtual and augmented reality.

In Conabio, we use GeoViz to develop applications that visualize and explain Mexican biodiversity to a wide audience. Different geovisualization tools are applied to offer both academic and non-specialist users a variety of perspectives on biodiversity issues at different scale levels. In order to draw a complete picture of the alliance between human society and nature, socio-economics data is considered as well.

Currently, Conabio´s GeoViz products and developments include the following interactive maps and virtual reality (VR) applications:

Interactive maps

Interactive web maps facilitate the transformation of large data volumes into useful information both for decision makers and the academia, as well as the broad public. In order to meet the requirements of our users, the following map-based types of geovisualizations are available:

Geoportal

Geoportal

Conabio´s Geoportal currently offers information (incl. maps) and spatial data on more than 5000 topics. Users can explore this information online and/or download the data for further analyses. The geoportal also gives access to the National Biodiversity Information System (SNIB), hosting more than 11 million of georeferenced registries of Mexican species.

Atlas of nature and society

Atlas de naturaleza y sociedad

Combining interactive maps with narrative features (incl. texts, images and multimedia content), the atlas facilitates synthesis and comparison of biodiversity issues over space and time. The atlas includes, for instance, dynamic interfaces to visualize the diachronic development of Mexican ecosystems, and the interaction of man and nature.

Mosaic of Mexico

Mosaico de México

This map shows Mexico with recent, high resolution multi-temporal satelite imagery and free of clouds. 4500 RapidEye satelite scenes were merged into a single image file of more than 100000 million of pixels eliminating cloud and cloud shadow effects and radiometric differences. Users can explore the mosaic online, or include it into web applications and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a Web Mapping Service (WMS)..

Virtual Reality

We experience the world around us in various dimensions. The three dimensions of space (3D) can be extended in different manners, for example by adding changes in time (4D). Many of Conabio´s interactive maps are the result of a two-dimensional visualization. This reduction facilitates a general overview of large areas but, at the same time, diminishes realism and level of detail. To overcome these limitations, Conabio also publishes multidimensional VR applications that enable users to immerse into and experience Mexican ecosystems through head-mounted displays (HMD). Currently, VR geovisualizations of coral-reefs have been developed for the Oculus Rift and smartphone-based HMD. Additionally, a non-immersive desktop version is available as well.

Media center





Fundamental element of our VR applications is the realistic 3D representation of the most important species of each ecosystem visualized. To give interested users access to the resulting 3D objects, all species modelled can be explored online, or downloaded (as .obj files) for further, non-commercial applications. Most of the 3D models published in the media center are provided with short verbal description in audio format.

The media center is open to the computer-graphics community to contribute with 3D models of Mexican flora and fauna.

All information of the media center is available and reusable under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license.

Applications for the Oculus Rift

Aplicaciones Oculus
Aplicaciones Oculus
Aplicaciones Oculus


In combination with an Oculus Rift HMD, these applications offer a high level of immersion that gives the user the sense of being located in the virtual environment. People with interest in this experience, but without the necessary HMD are invited to to use the desktop version provided below. We also have a mobile hardware set available that can be used for demonstration purposes, e.g. at conferences and educational institutions.

Available Ecosystems:

Based on information on bathymetry, benthic coverage and habitats, an area of 3.5 x 3.5 km of the Mesoamerican Reef System with underwater depths up to aprox. 21m is modelled, including the “Limones reef”, one of the few sites within the reef system where high presence of elkhorn corals (Acropora palmata) can still be observed.
To provide the user with additional information on the species modelled, floating 3D icons were placed within the VR environment giving interactive access to fact sheets in audio and text format.

  

Smartphone Apps

Aplicaciones Oculus
Aplicaciones Oculus
Aplicaciones Oculus


While the abovementioned VR environment designed for the Oculus Rift not only requires a special HMD, but also a powerful PC, we provide more compact apps for common smartphones as well. Here, the user only needs a headset like Samsung’s Gear VR or Google´s Cardboard to insert the smartphone and experience the application in 3D.

Available Ecosystems:

The app presents the most important elements of fauna and flora in the National Marine Park of Puerto Morelos through 3D models. Audio information is provided for each species. The app is available for Android and iOS devices.

  

Desktop VR

Aplicaciones Oculus
Aplicaciones Oculus
Aplicaciones Oculus


Users without any VR headset at hand can still install a desktop version and navigate the ecosystems modelled so far in a non-immersive computer-game fashion.

Available Ecosystems:

Based on information on bathymetry, benthic coverage and habitats, an area of 3.5 x 3.5 km of the Mesoamerican Reef System with underwater depths up to aprox. 21m is modelled, including the “Limones reef”, one of the few sites within the reef system where high presence of elkhorn corals (Acropora palmata) can still be observed.
Also the desktop VR version provides the user with additional information on the species modelled: 3D icons within the application give interactive access to fact sheets in audio and text format.