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Development of a 3D-map interface for touristinformation on mobile computers


TellMaris will focus on tourists and citizens on the move, and their need for tailor made tourism information using mobile terminals and an existing Destination Management System (database) as ambient intelligence environments. The scientific objective is to develop new data structures for representing interactive 3D maps on mobile terminals, combined with mobile location services. The end user objective, using boat tourists in the Baltic Sea Region as a case, is to improve the quality and the easiness of getting land based tourism information.

The main objective of TellMaris is to develop a generic 3D-map interface for access to tourist information on mobile terminals. To reach the objective of the project the following partial research objectives should be obtained:
1. Understand the market preferences and the best solutions through market survey and benchmarking;
2. Develop 3D data structure for geodatabase storage capable for storing terrain and city models coupled to geographical features relevant for tourism;
3. Develop a 3D-map based local data structure for the mobile computer that is a subset of the geodata stored in the geodatabase;
4. Develop necessary middleware technology for data communication and technology for effective network streaming of 3D terrain and city models;
5. Develop technology for 3D rendering and visualisation of 3D map data on mobile;
6. New means for interface interaction in 3D space;
7. Carry out two demonstrations to get feedback on user friendliness.

Work description:
The innovative aspects of TellMaris are based on an integration of recent technological and scientific advances within telecommunication, geometric modelling, geospatial technology and computer graphics to provide better means for information retrieval on mobile terminals. The 3D map interface prototype will be integrated into the Tellus(tm) Destination Management System. This system will be installed in seven Destination Management Organisations in the Baltic Sea Region and tested on a sample of boat tourists as a case. There will be two demonstration periods to ensure a user friendly development of the prototype.

The research is organised into eight workpackages and the project is divided into four phases:
1) User requirement phase;
2) Design phase;
3) Development phase and;
4) Assessment and evaluation phase. Workshops will be held at the end of each of the phases. The project will be managed by two boards, the Project Co-ordination Board and the Project Technical Committee.

Expected results: Include the 3D map interface as a new application into the Tellus Destination Management System and sell the system to the major harbours in the Baltic Sea Region; Commercialise other products based on terrain models; Promote m-commerce related technology; Increase the knowledge within 3D city models and m-commerce for future RTD projects.
Three databases have been developed to support the TellMaris system: 1) Terrain database (terrain geometry and textures) 2) 3D Object database (buildings and other man-made 3D features) 3) Tourist database (information content) The terrain handlihandling is implemented as a client-server application. In the client part (on the user computer), the data are handled as a continuous level of detail elevation model, with superimposed images. In both cases the data are fetched on an as-needed basis, where only the data required for generating the requested image is loaded. As the user moves around in the virtual terrain the models are updated to maintain the resolution needed to give a usable image, and minimise the resource usage for the client. The 3D database has been deployed due to the huge amount of geodata that have to be managed. It will contain models from several cities in the Baltic region, that can be reached by boat.

For the finnish city of Turku and the Archipelago region, we have access to a very detailed textured center model and a map containing building groundplans, streets and landuse areas. These data sets have been kindly provided by the National Land Survey of Finland. In respect to our mobile clients the center model had to be simplified. For lower levels of detail, the map has been used to generate simple block models, the landuse areas have been automatically draped on the terrain model so that they are also available as objects. For the database a schema has been developed that allows us to store almost arbitrary models as features in an object relational database system.In order to do this, nodes, edges and faces are broken down and inserted in tables. Since it allows hierarchical structures also complex architecture models can be handled, although this has been avoided in TellMaris. The block model and the center model have been integrated in order to produce several representations for one building. The connection to the internet is done by a webservice interface. The tourist database (or here Tellus Database) is a well-structured database It covers accommodation, attractions, services, events and all kinds of information that can be of interest for a tourist. All the information that the destination registers through the Destinator Back Office is stored in the Tellus Database. From this database, the information may be used in your own brochures, guides and even on your website by creating different views into the database. The information may even be distributed to other websites and portals with directly link to template at the Tellus search engine, or XML exports to portals. Three applications have been developed in the project.

The TellMarisOnBoard (TOB) system supports the tourist directly on the boat trip. The system runs on a laptop and provides 3D services for navigation and actual harbour information. Also, boat tourists regard basic services such as weather forecasts important. This prototype is developed for boat tourists as an information tool while travelling at sea from A to B. The services in the application are displayed in four frames: 2D and 3D map that shows the surroundings in relation to the GPS position of the boat, GPS frame with latitude, longitude etc. and a tourism information frame with searchable information from the Tellus database. The prototype is stored on a laptop with Internet access. However, the aim is to access most of the data for this application from a web based server. TellMarisGuide (TG) system runs on a PDA (phone, pocket PC) and aims to support tourists when she is visiting harbours. The 3D maps support navigation in a city and route/location finding to city attractions, restaurants and other interests. This prototype was first developed for the Nokia Communicator as an information tool when navigating and exploring a city. Later the application was ported to Nokia 7650, and separate prototype for Compaq iPaq was developed as well.

Both TellMarisGuide prototypes are able to view either 3D or 2D map of the surroundings. The user is also able to search for a point of interest in the city and get some navigation support to find the selected target. The market research in TellMaris has been divided in three phases. Phase I was carried out in the period June-September 2001. The objective was to obtain more knowledge about the leisure boat tourists as a tourist group in general, their behaviour, information retrieval processes and preferred medias. In phase II, usability evaluation for the TellMarisGuide and TellMarisOnBoard applications were conducted in three different countries during August and September 2002. The aim of the last respondent evaluation (phase III) was to investigate the usability of 3D maps in order to verify/falsify our hypothesis: "3D maps are more readable and useful for information retrieval, display of tourist information and finding a target than 2D maps".

Call for proposal

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EU contribution
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Participants (11)