Projection Sphere FAQ

Projection Sphere FAQ’s

If your specific question is not answered below, please contact us and we will assist you.

What is a projection sphere?


The projection sphere is a digital video globe that allows you to view and explore dynamic digital media of the earth and other planets, as well as to watch and interact with marketing, promotional or entertainment media.

How does the projection sphere work?


The projection sphere is a projection display device – it’s a computer display with a sphere-shaped screen. It’s controlled by a PC or another video source such as a streaming media server, so it can display any global image – it’s tremendously versatile. It allows you to present global information and global context in the most compelling way possible.

How would the projection sphere help me?

A projection sphere helps to improve the way people understand and act upon dynamic global systems and situations. Whether your audience is children in a museum, adults at a tradeshow, executives in a space systems organization, or senators and congressmen; a projection sphere digital video globe grabs people’s attention and sparks their imagination. The sphere makes it much easier for people to intuitively understand dynamic global systems – whether it’s climate, the biosphere, geologic history, or any other. They help tell stories about planets in a much more compelling way, so people want to repeat the experience, learning new things each time. With a projection sphere, you can change your exhibits quickly and easily, so people will come back again and again.

What sizes of the projection sphere are there?

The projection sphere comes in sizes from 16″ to almost 10′ (41cm – 3m). Sizes 16″ and 18″ (37cm – 46cm) afford maximum portability while grabbing people’s attention and sparking their imagination. Sizes 24″, 30″ and 36″ (61cm – 91.44cm) add imposing visual experiences while remaining personal and approachable. For maximum stunning impact, a 4′, 5′ or 6′ (1.219m to 1.828m) globe cannot be matched. 
Global Imagination’s inflatable products, projection sphere, are available with globe sizes of 1.6, 2, 2.5, and 3m (5’ 3”, 6′ 7″, 8′ 2′, and 9′ 10″) in diameter.

What is the globe made of?


The globe is made of durable acrylic with a special coating on the inside that allows the images to be projected clearly. The globe comes standard with anti-glare coating. It can be washed with soap and water.

What type of projector is used?

The projection sphere offers a variety of projectors to suit your budget and your usage scenarios. You can choose a high resolution XGA DLP projector, which is economical and meets typical needs; or you can choose an ultra-high resolution SXGA+ (1400×1050) DLP projector which offers uncompromising resolution, brightness and contrast. We now offer Laser & 4K projectors for the most demanding application and resolution requirements.

How often do the bulbs in the projector need to be replaced?


The projection sphere uses “off-the-shelf” PC projectors. Typically, their bulbs needs to be replaced about every 2000 hours, so operational costs are minimal.  Laser Projector Bulbs last approximately 20,000 hours.

What types of projection sphere configurations are there?


The product comes in both a portable configuration and a pedestal configuration, each with a tailored finish. Portable units can be brought by a single individual and set up for a presentation alongside a notebook computer in little more time than it takes to set up a PC projector. Whether it’s for use in a classroom, a meeting room, or a boardroom, a projection sphere display can be transported there and set up quickly and easily. Pedestal configurations are ideal for standing exhibits or displays, such as in museums, executive briefing centers, and corporate lobbies. Mount the projection sphere on a black matte base, and visitors will feel just like they’re watching the planet floating in space. The projection sphere globe can also be hung by a lift from the ceiling creating an impressive display for any area.

How can I interact with the projection sphere?

It’s easy to build projection sphere exhibits that incorporate devices such as touch screens and trackballs as well as third party applications.

Can I customize my own experience?

Projection spheres provide a true multi-media experience to captivate your audience. projection sphere software enables true interactive multi-media applications. You can run interactive simulations, display live streaming media, even play games on the projection sphere real time.

Where could I use the projection sphere?


You can use the projection sphere just about anywhere: a classroom, a meeting room, a boardroom, an exhibition or display, in museums and executive briefing centers as well as corporate lobbies. If attention is what you’re after, a projection sphere is ideal. However, that’s just the starting point for the results a projection sphere can deliver. With its 360° line of sight, and its true interactivity, projection spheres represent the next generation of digital signage and “in-store” advertising. projection spheres can be integrated with touch-screen kiosks, 3rd party applications such as merchandising systems, even with games, so you can draw people in and interactively escort them all the way to your final business objective.

How long does it take to set up the projection sphere portable?


The projection sphere portable is very simple to set up; in little more time than it takes to set up a PC projector you can see your images displayed on the digital video globe.

How easy is it to use the projection sphere?


Daily operation of the projection sphere is easy – it can be handled by almost anyone. Customers typically leave the projection sphere software running 24/7, and either have an automated shutdown or merely have someone turn the projection sphere projector on and off daily. To manually turn the projection sphere on and off, they just press the power button twice on the projector’s remote to turn it off, and once to turn it on – they don’t even have to open or close the projection sphere!

Can I build my own enclosure for the projection sphere?

Yes. You simply purchase the projection sphere with a mounting chassis for inclusion in your own exhibit’s construction rather than purchase an enclosure from Global Imagination.

What is the projection sphere StoryTeller Software?


The projection sphere StoryTeller is the software designed especially for the projection sphere. It allows you to “choreograph an entire exhibit” – to control what images you use and how you use them. You can use it to control the projection sphere in many different ways:
• interactively using the StoryTeller’s user interface;
• interactively via a wireless remote control – which is perfect for use by a facilitator;
• interactively via a touch-screen or other custom interface – easily built by anyone with web development skills – so visitors can investigate the exhibit at their own pace and according to their interests;
• interactively from a 3rd party application; or
• fully automated, with no user intervention required.
The StoryTeller enables you to control all aspects of the imagery displayed on the projection sphere, for example:
• the images or animations displayed, and in what order when running fully automated;
• the audio, associated content, touch-screen pages or video are to be played in conjunction with the projection sphere display;
• the animation’s progress and speed as well as the rotation of the globe;
• the focus on specific regions of interest on the globe.
Up-to-the-minute information can be crucial, so the StoryTeller is designed for real-time integration. It can act like a Digital Video Recorder (DVR), so real-time visuals can be paused, rewound and reviewed in slow motion for maximum insights into the situation. 

With the StoryTeller Software Developer’s Kit (SDK), the product can be directly integrated with third-party software for true application-level interactivity. Of course, integrations are already available for industry leading applications. See our

What is the projection sphere OnStage Software?


OnStage is our most recently announced application. To characterize the two applications, StoryTeller is designed to choreograph exhibits, while OnStage is designed to enable interactive media and applications on the projection sphere. OnStage is “always live” – in other words, you can display interactive simulations, live streaming media, even games on the projection sphere in real time. OnStage works with existing, unmodified applications and video – there’s no programming involved to make them appear on the sphere. Moreover, it’s completely interactive – it has advanced cursor support so you can control your applications directly while watching nothing but your projection sphere display! 

OnStage works by taking a rectangular global display in any application window and “warping it” in real-time for display on the projection sphere. In addition, it can take a second window and map it as an “inset window” on the projection sphere in real-time. There’s no modification required to the applications. 

Some examples include mapping: global displays from satellite simulation applications onto the projection sphere in real time; interactive Flash animations; Photoshop or AfterEffects animations under development; live streaming video from a web page or a movie player; Google Earth and NASA WorldWind for “zooming in” to locations on the globe; and many others. 

Another key feature of OnStage is that it can map the Windows cursor onto the projection sphere, so users can run their applications entirely by watching the projection sphere, and without looking at the computer’s “flat display.” For example, students could use a trackball looking at the projection sphere to locate areas of high and low pressure on the globe, and then watch the simulation results live (Global Imagination doesn’t supply the application, OnStage simply maps it to the projection sphere.) 

OnStage represents the future in terms of providing true projection sphere interactivity with little or no incremental application development investment. 

In the release, we’ve also included a range of imagery and animations covering a variety of topics. The full catalog of the images and animations we’ve collected or developed, which includes hundreds, is now in the projection sphere Community (more on the Community below). As we go through the process of uploading the actual animations (as opposed to the catalog), you may need to contact us to get particular ones we haven’t yet uploaded.

What is the Dynamic Earth Application?


We’re frequently asked if the projection sphere can show “real-time weather.” In response we’ve developed an application called projection sphere DynamicEarth which downloads high quality images of global weather (IR cloud images, to be specific) from the Internet every three hours. In conjunction with StoryTeller, it’s like a weather Digital Video Recorder – you can see the most recent weather “live”, or pause and go back to see a replay of the last eight weeks. In addition, you can get “live” earthquake imagery. In the future, you can expect a wide variety of “near-real-time” imagery to be available including weather forecasts, sea surface temperatures, etc. There’s a modest annual fee for the service.

What computer hardware is required to run the projection sphere?

StoryTeller and OnStage software require only a standard notebook or desktop computer running Microsoft Windows XP with a second video output port to drive the projection sphere projector. The computer should have:
• 1 GB of memory;
• a 3D graphics accelerator chip such as the nVIDIA GeForce4 or ATI Radeon. The video output port must natively support the projection sphere projector’s resolution (1400 x 1050 for all but the low end 16” portable, which has a resolution of 1024 x 768)
• a 60 GB disk, of at least 7,200 RPM
Alternately, the projection sphere can be driven by a DVD player or streaming media server that supports SXGA+ output (or XGA output in the case of our low end 16″ portable.
What kinds of organizations use the projection sphere?
Our largest markets are:
• The informal education market including organizations such as museums, planetariums, aquariums, science centers, natural history museums as well as universities and research institutes – any organization that wants to educate about global science, or to place local information in a global context
• The satellite systems market, including organizations that own, run and build satellite systems, as well as the consumers of the information they provide;
• The commercial market including organizations that want to use the projection sphere for marketing and promotion, or entertainment purposes.
When was Global Imagination formed?
Located in Campbell, California, we were formed in 2002 to commercialize a new way to display information about planets, and to make its benefits as broadly available as possible.
Who are Global Imagination’s customers?
Our customers include:
• Museums such as the Maryland Science Center, Birch Aquarium at Scripps and Chabot Space Science Center, as well as universities and research organizations such Oregon State University, Florida State and the University Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).
• Aerospace systems organizations such as Boeing, NASA, NOAA, ESA and Northrop Grumman Space Technology.
• Commercial organizations such as Nintendo and TAP Pharmaceuticals.

Projection Sphere Hardware Page for more detail on packages etc
Projection Sphere Customers List for some of our client deployments
Learn about Interactive Projection Spheres
Projection Sphere FAQ
Projection Sphere Overview
Projection Sphere Testimonials