GeoSim: Integrating City Models with E-Commerce

As Head of Research and Development with the Israeli Air Force, Victor Shenkar managed world-leading programmes in aeronautics, electronics, electro-optics, guidance, control and communications. When he left the Air Force he was determined to put his expertise to civilian use.

So it is that after a decade of civilian research and development, his company GeoSim Systems has established a leading position in the field of urban modelling, visualisation and simulation.

GeoSim's custom technologies provide a pipeline for the collection, integration and validation of data for the creation of high-definition, naturalistic 3D city models for real-time exploration and interaction.

Key to the models' fidelity is the company's proprietary Groundscan 3D city mapping platform, which fuses high-resolution scans and photos gathered aerially, at street level and in building interiors. For ground-level scanning (photo below), the company employs a distinctive 'stop-scan' methodology using carefully chosen scanning points in each city street. They say this is up to ten times more accurate than moving-vehicle methodologies, and claim a spatial accuracy of 10cm for outdoor data, 5cm indoors.

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Data are stored in parametric form, which enables high compression rates for rapid streaming, and enables physical queries such as, "How many buildings in the city are over 30 metres high?" The models can integrate all kinds of city-related data such as zoning, traffic flows and utilities.

Precise integration of aerial, street-level and indoor data is central to GeoSim's concept, for it allows users to move freely and seamlessly between different kinds of experience – from panoramic city overviews, to street-level encounters, to exploration of interiors, to interactions with small objects rich in geometric/ textural detail. As in real-life, the user can move at his/ her own pace between these levels of experience.

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This approach enables GeoSim to offer an alternative to the 'hard sell' of dedicated e-commerce websites by providing familiar spaces in which the viewing and buying of products can happen naturally, as part of a broader, more engaging and enjoyable experience. Here, you can enjoy much of the visual richness of real-world shopping but without the crowds, the noise and the pushy salesmen, and with a potentially unlimited range of products at your fingertips.

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Visually, GeoSim city models combine the atmosphere of Edward Hopper with the hyper-realist detail of Richard Estes, and the small objects (lights, trashcans and other street furniture) appear as accurately made as the skyscraper buildings and store-front displays.

The 'Guitar Center' on 'Sunset Boulevard' is just one of many of GeoSim's reconstructed storefronts. Its wide portal invites the user into an Aladdin's Cave of instrumental choice, including an entire wall of electric guitars, from which the user can select one for scrutiny.

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GeoSim's navigable, markup-capable 3D environments have been used by governments, entertainment companies, retailers, media firms and others. Their city models bring much of the fun of 3D video gaming to the serious businesses of urban planning, homeland security, visualisation, simulation, e-marketing and sales; and this is no accident, for the company's engineers knowingly incorporate innovations from the gaming field.

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Such fruitful crossover looks set to expand with the company's exploitation of the newest 'in-cloud' rendering systems, facilitating platform-independent deployment of high-definition 3D city maps to smartphones, tablets and web users.

Further Information

Company website: www.geosimcities.com

Streaming movies showcasing GeoSim technology and main applications: www.geosimmovies.com

CEO Victor Shenkar: victor@geosim.co.il

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