On Friday afternoon, I attended the SpatioScholar (Unity) workshop at NYU. SpatioScholar is an application, built in Unity, developed by a group of academics for scholarly work that requires 3-D and time-based processing and visualization. This tool allows scholars to explore spatial and temporal datasets with a unique set of functionalities. One of its most useful features is a timeline slider; it demonstrates change over time, showing how a certain building or location evolved over a set period of time. Additionally, through the simulation feature, the viewer can experience the space in first-person. They are dropped into the middle of the model and can control which direction to walk in order to explore the model. Another beneficial feature is the ability to connect primary materials to the model. Viewers can browse information like photos, drawings or textual documents that relate to a specific location in time. Finally, SpatioScholar lets viewers and users leave notes and view others’ notes.
I have never worked with 3-D models before so it was very cool to see how it can be rendered and manipulated in Unity. During the workshop we imported a generic model that the instructors created. We then added a timeline bar to the model; as you slid along the timeline, buildings appeared and disappeared over time. Next, we explored the different ways to view the model. When you are working in the edit mode, you can zoom in and out of the model and spin it around to view from different angles. Entering into the simulation mode, we were dropped into the model itself and had the ability to walk around and view the model in first-person. While in the first-person view, you can use the timeline bar to move across time to see how the space changes. We then learned how to view and add notes to the model. You can pin a note to a specific place or building as well as add to a specific time. Finally, we imported some primary material. Like the notes, you can pin photos or documents to specific buildings or to a specific time period. We pinned a few photos to a specific building and as we slid the timeline bar along, the photos appeared and disappeared with the building.
Overall SpatioScholar was pretty easy to use once I understood the type of data we were importing and how it corresponded to the data fields within Unity. The instructors also showed us some finished models created with this tool and that helped solidify the possibilities and capabilities available with this application.