An Experiential Model of the Atmosphere

In “Who Has Been the Wind?”, participants can interact with atmospheric phenomena using full-body gestures.

Experiencing Atmospheric Physics

In addition to interacting with spatial variables using gestural interaction, participants can use a mobile or kiosk interface to manipulate global parameters, such as gravity, altitude, simulation speed, or spatial resolution.

The Experiential Complex Systems (ECS) team is collaborating with researchers from the Computational Information Systems Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to adapt existing idealized models of atmospheric dynamics for use in real-time media systems. In addition to creating a dynamical core that can operate at high resolutions and responsive frame rates, ECS is developing novel sensing and feedback mappings to allow users to manipulate dynamic, spatial variables such as wind flow velocity, pressure, temperature, and moisture content using full-body interaction.

The Experiential Models of the Atmosphere project consists of both an informal educational exhibit, “Who Has Been the Wind?”, and a portable system that can be used as a research and classroom tool for learning about specific atmospheric processes and experiment with necessary conditions for creating phenomena such as the convection, orographic lift, monsoons, storm fronts, and cyclones. In addition to the fully embodied, multisensory experience implemented in the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering’s Intelligent Stage (iStage), the simulation is designed to be easily portable between different environments including classrooms, museum spaces, planetarium domes, spherical projection surfaces, or interactive kiosks.

In this video, a participant’s body acts as an obstruction to a steady flow of air as they use a tablet interface to adjust simulation parameters and switch between visualizing multiple variables and metrics, including wind velocity, water vapor and condensed water (0:04, 0:20, 0:58), air pressure (0:12), and divergence (0:38).

For more information, visit the group website.

Synthesis Center Researchers

Brandon Mechtley: Simulations Lead | Synthesis Center, AME

Sha Xin Wei: Director | Synthesis Center, AME

Connor Rawls: Student Researcher, Visual Programming | Synthesis Center, AME

Outside Collaborators

Christopher Roberts: Former Research Director | Center for Scholarship and Research Engagement, Regis University

Melissa Bukovsky: Scientific Advising and Validation | National Center for Atmospheric Research

Randy Russell: Educational Technology Advising | UCAR Center for Science Education

Linda Mearns: Scientific Advising and Validation | National Center for Atmospheric Research

Dehlia Hannah: Former Research Curator | School for the Future of Innovation and Society