UConn students and faculty can now visit the pyramids at Giza, the Amazon rainforest, or the Roman Coliseum all without ever leaving the library.
A Google Liquid Galaxy has just been installed at Homer Babbidge, located on the first floor near the computers, replacing what was previously a print station. It consists of a center console with five monitors facing you in a semi-circle. Users can type in locations on the touch screen and instantly view places around the world in this immersive Google Earth experience.
“It’s like seeing the world without actually taking a vacation,” said Alec Suprenant, an undergraduate senior who works in library’s IT department and helped with the installation of the technology.
Other universities are beginning to implement the technology as well, and can provide inspiration to students at UConn as they come up with innovative ways to use the Liquid Galaxy. For example, an art history professor at UNC Chapel Hill is using it to better understand the landscape where a medieval aviation experiment took place.
Many different subject areas can find uses for the Liquid Galaxy. For example, geography students can get the literal “lay of the land” and map out changes over time. Those interested in urban planning or architecture can look at cities around the world, while history classes can visit faraway historical sites with a touch of a button. Archaeology professors can virtually transport students to a dig site. Journalism students can even do research or fact checking for their stories by virtually visiting other locations, like the professional journalists at Storyful.com do.
The Liquid Galaxy is sure to inspire future research projects, educational presentations, and new ways of learning and teaching. Many industries are also starting to employ the technology, so students can benefit from learning how to use it early on. For example, real estate companies have been able to virtually showcase properties, and tourism and hospitality workers can give guests an inside look at various resorts and vacation spots.
Or, if none of this appeals to you, looking up your house is always fun.
“I would estimate that when people first see the Liquid Galaxy, about 60 to 70 percent of them look up their house first,” said Suprenant.