The Virtual Planet project aims at developing a worldwide leading product, named the V-Planet Explorer and based on cutting-edge innovative Virtual Reality techniques, for browsing very high-resolution 3D geographic information in real-time on mainstream personal computers. This will enable a large number of persons, experts or common people, to explore and interact with the vast amounts of natural and cultural information gathered about the Earth. The V-Planet explorer should be compared to a Web browser while the Digital Earth database should be compared to the Internet. The consortium has the unique privilege of having early access to the SRTM Mission database and to very high-resolution city models captured with state-of-the-art operated airborne sensor. These databases will be used for tuning, test and validation purposes on real cases.
V-Planet will provide a product at the end of the project, therefore end-users will be deeply involved in the project throughout its iterative development cycle. It has been decided, in agreement with the end-users of the V-Planet consortium, to have three cycles in order to provide three successive releases of the V-Planet Explorer, the alpha, beta and final releases. The V-Planet software architecture will be opened and modular. It will allow the development and integration of external components or plug-ins developed by third party developers. Along with an object-oriented architecture, these features minimize the development risk if the development of a component fails. The implication of final end-users in this project is critical although difficult to set-up because of the broad range of potential end-users. This is the reason why the greatest attention will be paid to organising and using the V-Planet Special Interest User Group as an important provider of requirements and advices. The V-Planet consortium will enable this SIUG to follow the project activity thanks to an e-forum, a mailing list, an attractive and interactive website and workshops organised by the project. The consortium could have involved "final" end-users but they would have been a minor representation of all the organisations that could benefit from the V-Planet outcomes. The consortium has preferred to integrate 3 major "intermediate" end-users because of their excellent knowledge of the over-all end-users' needs and because they will own the state-of-the art high-resolution data which won't be available for most of the final end-users before the end of the project. The consortium will select, for validation purpose, some real-world cases proposed by final end-users in the following fields: Telecommunications, Military, Mapping and GI, Planning and construction, Science and security, Simulation and training, Education and entertainment.
M4: State-of-the art;
M6: V-Planet Explorer alpha release specification and design;
M14: alpha release available;
M16: alpha release validated, new end-user requirements;
M18: refined specification and design for beta release;
M20: real-world applications selected by end-users for validation;
M24: beta release available;
M26: beta release validated, new end-user requirements;
M28: refined specification and design for final release;
M34: V-Planet Explorer released;
M36: V-Planet Explorer ready to market.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts