What if there were a device that could provide an interactive experience for city dwellers to be able to gaze at the wonders of our night sky, while also providing a beautiful sculpture for landscapes, parks and gardens? Two inventors who specialize in digital interactive design are working on just such a device, and they call it the Humble Telescope. “We like to bring new experiences to people by finding innovative ways to use technologies,” said Steven Mieszelewicz president of a company called ENESS, based in Melbourne, Australia. “I think everyone at some stage in their lives loves to learn about space, but there’s the problem that many people can’t see the night sky without traveling an hour outside the city. We want to help people be able to marvel at the universe around them.”
ENESS is designing the Humble Telescope as an interactive civic sculpture that not only brings the wonders of space down to earth, but also encourages people to learn more about the universe and perhaps appreciate our own world a little more. The telescope works by using 3-D simulation software that incorporates actual images of space from NASA, along with GPS technology. When the user points the telescope in any direction, no matter what location the telescope if located on Earth, the Humble Telescope will show what exists in that area of the sky. It works during the day or night, cloudy or clear.
Watch the video below to see how it might work:
Mieszelewicz and his partner Nimrod Weis design 3D software applications and animations such as interactive maps, as well as creating interactive public art installations and environmental design concepts.
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“We’ve been living and breathing interactivity, creating new experiences, and dealing with technology,” said Meiszelewicz, “We love the idea of enhancing active environments and we also feel that artwork should be accessible and relevant to everyone. And we wanted to combine all that to create something to make space and astronomy relevant to everyone.”
They also wanted to do something for the International Year of Astronomy, and hope to have the Humble Telescope ready by October 2009.
Mieszelewicz noted that they came up with the name before they heard about the “Humble Space Telescope,” the small Canadian telescope that was launched into space in 2003. (The official name of the telescope is MOST or Microvariability and Oscillations of STars, but it’s affectionately known as the Humble, a takeoff on the larger Hubble space telescope.) “We liked the name “Humble” because we wanted to do something that makes us more humble and more conscious about what we’re doing to our planet and how small we really are. We saw the name as being a good message for people.”
The company is fairly far along with the design of the interior workings of the telescope. “We have put a considerable amount of time into how everything will be achieved,” said Mieszelewicz. “We already have written software on how to map out the solar system, so it’s not a massive hurdle for us.” But they are also looking at teaming up with a technology institute in Japan who has developed some open source software that will be helpful in the design.
The exterior structure however, is still being considered. “We’re discussing different ideas and the considerations for the design, to make it foolproof in a way, so it’s safe for public use, where people can’t hurt themselves while using it.” Mieszelewicz said. “We wanted it to be a city sculpture because it’s a very positive sort of image, being able to look up at the stars. We like the idea that people can get their hands on it and move its position – but it won’t be able to be wildly swung around, and people will need to take a patient role in using it.” Mieszelewicz said they want to emphasize the observation part rather than that you can swing around on it like a toy.
Mieszelewicz thinks the Humble Telescope will likely look like the promo images seen here, but they are still looking at how people will be able to move it. “We want to give it a very mechanical feel, maybe with a wheel or something that will give it rotation and another wheel will to move the angle,” he said.
Where would you be able to find a Humble Telescope? Mieszelewicz said they are still deciding whether to have the telescopes at permanent locations, or if they would travel city to city, like a traveling exhibition.
They’ve received inquiries about the telescope sculptures from several cities around the world, and also from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, home of the Hubble Space Telescope, which might be interested in having one in the gardens on the Institute’s property.
Mieszelewicz said they haven’t yet determined the cost of the telescopes, and costs would be dependent on whether the sculpture was permanent or was a touring model that might stay a a location for 3-12 months before moving to another city. He said they received considerable interest in the touring idea, so that would change the way they would market and price the telescopes.
See ENESS’s website for more information on the company and the Humble Telescope.