Google Earth is so popular that it has a very large, devoted user community, and it’s what most people think of when it comes to a Earth viewer. However, at Macworld | iWorld, you’ll find PersonalPlanet, an Earth viewer by iGlobe that takes things to a whole different level.
PersonalPlanet is more of a educational science tool than Google Earth—and it’s much more expensive, with pricing around $7700. The product uses different components to present a color-rich high-resolution image of the earth as a 3D sphere, without the 3D spectacles.
The first part of PersonalPlanet is the spherical display that mounts on a user-provided iMac. It isolates the imagery to the center of the display, so you can’t use it when you’re normally using the iMac. It’s made to be used with the iGlobe software, the second component.
The third component involves an iPad. PersonalPlanet has an iPad app that acts as the main interface for PersonalPlanet, communicating with the iMac wirelessly. You can select different types of views of the Earth, such as real-time weather reports—think of the weather maps you see on the TV news, but in 3D. PersonalPlanets also offers historical data; the iGlobe representative demonstrated how tsunamis spread throughout the world after the Japan earthquakes in March 2011.
Obviously, PersonalPlanet is a niche product, suitable for museums and schools with available funds. But it offers dazzling graphics and presents data in a way that makes it more understandable.