NOAA's Science On a Sphere® Releases First App to Apple's App Store

On Friday, November 4, 2011, the ESRL/Global Systems Division/Technology Outreach Branch/Science On a Sphere® Group released their first app to Apple's App Store. The app, called SOS Remote, is designed for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad and is used to control a Science On a Sphere® (SOS) installation, a room sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six-foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe. Although a handful of apps in the store have been created to interface with NOAA-related data, SOS Remote is the first app to be published under NOAA.

The SOS Remote app affords greater interaction capabilities and ease of use compared to previous SOS controllers such as the Wii Remote. Key features include adjusting the orientation of the sphere in an intuitive way, viewing the current playlist as well as loading any playlist stored on the SOS computer, loading any dataset contained in the SOS data catalog, browsing dataset descriptions via a Web interface, and performing full projector alignment using an intuitive three step process. The use of touch screen mobile devices opens up the doors to an array of interaction possibilities with SOS. The SOS team is continuing to add new features to the app that will enhance the visualization and educational experience of SOS.

Science On a Sphere® was invented by Dr. Alexander "Sandy" MacDonald, the Director of the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, CO and OAR Deputy Assistant Administrator for NOAA Research Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes. Dr. MacDonald came up with the concept for SOS in 1995 as an outgrowth of other visualization projects he was directing within the former Forecast Systems Laboratory.

Researchers at NOAA continue to develop and advance SOS as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth system science to people of all ages. Animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change, and ocean temperature can be shown on the sphere, which is used to explain what are sometimes complex environmental processes in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating.

SOS extends NOAA's educational program goals, which are designed to increase public understanding of the environment. Using NOAA's collective experience and knowledge of the Earth's land, oceans, and atmosphere, NOAA uses SOS as an instrument to enhance informal educational programs in science centers, universities, and museums across the country and globally. SOS is available to any institution and is currently in operation at 75 facilities in the United States and around the world.

Contact information
Name: William Bendel
Tel: 303-497-6708
william.b.bendel@noaa.gov