Fragile Earth Studios is a project that leverages data visualizations, simulations, virtual worlds, and games to better understand real-world challenges. We work with a variety of customers creating engaging virtual content.
Since 2005, we’ve been creating games and data visualizations, playing with the newest technology, and forming a community online, locally, and in the classroom.
If you’re interested in learning more about our work, or would like to be kept updated on our current projects, feel free to browse through our portfolio, sign up for our RSS feed, or contact us directly.
Eric: Longtime proponent of games and virtual worlds in government, and a multimedia guru. Extensive experience with the Adobe CS suite, from video editing to audio recording to posters, presentations, and images.
Julien: Video game and senior developer working primarily in the Unity game engine. Specializing in programming, game design, and 3D modeling, and an instructor at the University of Colorado on the side.
Jeff: Veteran coder with 10+ years experience in Java and extensive work with Adobe Flash and Flex.
Richard: Pioneer in using immersive intelligence for complex systems and big data. Founder of Bolder Technology Inc.
Anders: Virtual worlds expert. Founder of The Gronstedt Group.
Hilary: Education and outreach coordinator at NOAA. Ann develops educational material and education assessment, and works with Science on a Sphere.
Don: Experienced coder and longtime data viz expert, Don was one of the original developers of IDV.
Fragile Earth Studios is a lot of things: data visualizations, training and simulations, immersive learning environments, and multi-user virtual worlds. What ties it all together is interactivity: we build environments that engage the user. Compared with static or non-interactive content — images, powerpoints, movies — interactivity offers a number of benefits. A quick look at what we do:
Data is the currency of business and government, and data visualizations are, at their core, interactive ways of looking at, sorting, and exploring vast quantities of data. Data can be global sensor networks, satellite imagery, or complex 3D models. We build data visualizations for a number of use cases: for the public, simple interfaces and beautiful graphics allow users with no background to quickly understand and navigate through complex data; for scientists, powerful tools to sift through terabytes of information, drilling down from lower-resolution global views to raw data views at the highest resolutions and in multiple formats; for decision makers, data visualizations combined with simulation elements, allowing (for instance) a city planner to view flooding scenarios and plan evacuation routes.
Training and Simulations
Virtual training increasingly accompanies classroom learning, allowing hands-on exploration and trial and error. You can see an example of a training simulation in our Virtual Hawai’i video, where users learn celestial navigation, the ancient practice of ocean navigating by the stars. We also host learning management systems (LMS) for use in the classroom, for instance at classroom.fragileearthstudios.com/, and can integrate games and data visualizations directly with LMSs.
To create useful training and simulations, we feel it’s important to be teachers ourselves. Members of FES give talks at conferences, do day- and week-long training sessions, and teach classes at local universities.
Immersive Learning Environments
Immersive learning, where students enter a 3D virtual classroom, allows experiences that simply aren’t possible in real life. Students can visit places that would be too unsafe, expensive, or otherwise impractical to do in life, with an exploratory learning style that simply isn’t possible with static forms of interaction like books, powerpoint slides, or videos. To see an example of an immersive learning environment in Second Life, check out our Virtual Hawai’i video or visit Virtual Hawai’i in Second Life. For immersive learning in a browser-based environment, contact us and we would be happy to send you a link and meet you in a Unity-based virtual world.
Multi-User Virtual Worlds
Whether for inter-office collaboration or classroom group learning, multi-user virtual worlds are a powerful step forward. We have a simulation up of Rock Creek Park that you can test out – have a coworker log in with you to experience the multi-user aspect.
We use two major platforms for delivering projects.
We prefer the Unity visualization engine, which can be used to create desktop applications, integrated directly into websites and Facebook, used on mobile, and much more. The advantages of standalone projects is total control: they can be set up behind firewalls, delivered on a CD, or act as private multi-user collaboration and meeting tools. Standalone projects offer stunning graphics and intuitive controls, as can be seen in our TerraViz demo.
Virtual Worlds Platforms
When wide distribution is the goal, for instance with education and outreach, virtual worlds are a great solution. We host and can build online services for virtual worlds, and have worked for years with major VW platforms like Second Life and Open Sim, which have an active user base of millions. You can see examples of our previous work through the Virtual Hawai’i video, Second Earth, and Energy Island.
We believe that virtual worlds are the future of learning, collaboration, and visualization. We’re passionate about finding new ways to teach and learn, and bringing data to those who most need it. People play games not just for fun, but also for the satisfaction of solving complex problems requiring reasoning and perseverance. If we made solving real-world challenges as engaging as video games, we could harness a new age of global creativity.
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