Microsoft’s Surface Sphere was unfortunately just an eye-catching demo, but if you want some spherical display goodness in your life (or, indeed, just in your living room) then Nirav Patel has the DIY route for you. His homegrown spherical display uses a Microvision ShowWX pico-projector, an 8-inch frosted glass light fitting, a fish-eye lens and some open-source software he’s coded up specially, and costs around $200 to put together.
The choice of pico-projector is particularly important: it’s a laser-based model, which means there’s no focusing required and so it can project onto the entire inner surface of the globe – thanks to the fish-eye lens – simultaneously. Patel’s software takes the high-resolution, copyright-free image and video data released from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - which includes basic globe maps, animated weather patterns, the milky way and the moon – and finagles it to suit the sphere.
Unlike Microsoft’s prototype there’s no multitouch control to manipulate the image, though you can spin the graphics round in the DIY version using the computer doing the graphics crunching. In the second video, Patel has tracked 24 different low-orbit satellites using the display. Best of all, he’s released all the required code – including templates for the 3D printed brackets holding everything together – for you to try your hand at building one too.