universe2go will turn you smartphone into a fascinating guide through the night skywith augmented reality (AR) binoculars.
How does it work?
The augmented reality binoculars are a completely new technology, which we call “Stargazer”. It allows you to see the real sky and the generated overlay images simultaneously. To do this, universe2go uses an app on your smartphone (IOS/iPhones or Android devices). It generates images of the night sky based on your local time, geographic location and the orientation of the device. Or in short: it knows where you are and what you are looking at.
You may know other sky map Apps which claim to have an AR feature. universe2go has 3 significant advantages over this apps.
1) The reliability of the smartphone sensors is too low to allow a proper alignment of the display and the sky. Especially beginners have great problems to identify constellations with this apps.
2) The image display of the constellation is much smaller than the real sky and the impression of the star brightness is very different on the display and the sky. This too makes it very difficult for beginners to reliably identify stars and constellations.
3) universe2go zooms into objects like planets, nebulae and star cluster and shows you a great 3D image. For me that is one of the coolest fun features of universe2go.
Where does it work? - on every location on planet earth.
Which languages does it speak? - English and German.
Runs on which platforms? IOS/iPhone and Android.
What can you do with universe2go?
In Discovery-Mode you explore the 88 official constellations of the night sky. Learn how the visible constellation change with the seasons of the year and which stars at the sky belong to which constellation. The constellation will be visualized to you by universe2go with lines between the real stars, that you can see in the sky. And the best about it all: You will get a short audio explanation about the specialities of the constellation. The audio is available in English andGerman.
In Mythology-Mode universe2go will show you images of mythological figures, which the ancient cultures associated with the stars in the sky. Linger a short moment at the image and universe2go will start to narrate an ancient greek legend about it. Through this very entertaining way you will learn a lot about the gods, heroes,beasts and beautiful princesses of old.
In Deep-Sky-Mode you will see interesting sky objects beside the stars, which you normally would not be able to see with your naked eye. Discover beautiful nebulae, galaxies and star clusters, which are invisible but nevertheless populate the sky in huge numbers. universe2go will show you a fine selection of interesting objects. The most important information will be displayed as overlay in the head-up-display. Then universe2go will zoom to show you great images of the best telescopes world-wide like the Hubble Space Telescope and will explain them with spoken background information.
When you hold on to a deep sky object you will get a zoomed image, a close up view of the objects, most of them in astonishing 3D!
For me this is the coolest feature of universe2go! You will love it.
You consider yourself as an experienced astronomer? Great! – Take the challenge and try to search & find constellations, stars, planets or deep sky objects in the sky. universe2go will set the task and will give you feedback if you are wrong or right .
Obviously it makes sense to leave your sofa and explore the real night sky outside to make use of universe2go!
universe2go is for everyone!
Have you ever looked at the night sky and wandered which stars belongs to wich constellation?
Have your kids ever asked you about the stars and the night sky and all you knew was the big dipper?
Did you ever wanted to find the polar star and learn about what makes him so special?
Do you love to listen to fascinating stories about heroes, beasts and princesses of old?
Have you ever asked yourself how far you can see with your naked eye?
Do you want to know where all this beautiful Hubble images are located in the sky and learn more about their background?
Do you want to know if a meteor shower is coming tonight?
Did you ever wanted to find a comet that you heard or read about?
You know absolutely nothing about astronomy yet? (Or even if you do but love to learn something new...)
Then universe2go is definitely for you!
First of all you should fund universe2go because you think it is a very cool idea. Many people which have seen the prototype so far think that, too. Here are some testimonials:
"Great idea! Especially the 3D images" - Thomas Jacob
"Brilliant. Super idea. I believe this has a big future!" - Daniel Bockshecker
"I didn't know that stargazing could be that much fun!" - Marion Hofmann
For me universe2go is important not only for the business part of it but because
* I want to share our enthusiasm for the night sky. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it perfectly: "Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile." - Love this!
* universe2go makes you go outside and realize this beauty instead of using your iPad or smartphone inside as a cool gadget which shows virtual stars on your living room wall.
* it is a great educational device which let's you and your kids learn with great fun.
* I need your support to make universe2go happen! The costs for the tooling is the most critical hurdle to take for any hardware project and a great risk for the entrepreneur if he does not know if anyone is really interested in his idea.
* I dream of establishing an internet platform and a community where you can share astro images and stories of your own about the night sky. And crowd-funding is a great way to start such a community. Be the first one to join!
Your support will help me to fund the production start of universe2go.
universe2go already had a long evolution phase:
The first prototype was glued together with cardboard and some optics "at hand" nearly two years ago. The image quality was lousy but it proved that the idea would work. But as Thomas A. Edison put it "Innovation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." After more than one year of development universe2go has now reached a great level of image quality, reliability and user friendliness.
First of all the hardware (optics) needed to be optimized to be lightweight, yield a sharp image and get the maximum field of view in order to make even the big constellations to fit in real size.
Secondly I developed special algorithms to accord for the inherent measurement errors of the smartphone, especially the compass. Although the sensors in the devices have a high precision(e.g. they yield very exact measurement) the compass has a very low accuracy which is usually not better than +/- 15 degrees. We even put the smartphones on a computerized telescope mount and spun them around to make measurements. In endless testing sessions outside on the "real night sky" I finally figured out how to reliably identify the correct stars and to align the overlay image with the real sky.
We experimented also with external sensors but beside the cost effect, we really wanted to stick to the idea of a "passive" device. You know - Murphy's Law; with additional sensors you would always deal with empty batteries, connection problems, incompatibility and so on. universe2go works as long as your smartphone works!
And last but not least I experimented a lot with different user interaction types to make the appvery easy to use and control when it is inside the Stargazer device. Most of the time universe2go will work "automatically" - just look at a "Point of Interest", a star, a planet or a deep sky object and it will start explaining or telling an interesting story. Only when you want to switch between modes or change settings you control the app with movements of your head (which is very easy to learn, as many test persons have proven already).
Where do we stand now?
We are now ready for production of the universe2go. We already designed and planned the production with industrial standard 3D data formats. universe2go will be Made in Germany in order to guarantee a high quality of the product.
The next step is to make the injection molding tooling which takes about 6-8 weeks. When the tooling is complete, we will begin test production runs. If everything works fine we should be able to move to full production by Summer. The production timeline looks like this:
* May: In conjunction with professional German mechanical engineers and designers with experience in mass market consumer products manufacturing we will finalize the tooling design. The pre-production prototype has been tested in the field and we are satisfied with the usability and look of the design.
* June: Injection molding tooling should be complete. Our manufacturer has done work of similar or more challenging designs for many clients in Europe. We have reviewed the tooling milestone based on the finalized 3D industrial data formats together with professional manufacturing experts.
*July: Production begins. Our manufacturer has a large facility capable of producing 10,000 units per week, if necessary, and a demonstrated track record of high quality production for major consumer brands.
* end of August: Product transferred from factory, labeled, and shipped to backers' doors!
More money - more fun! We have some more ideas to enhance the universe2go experience even more. Here is the first stretch goal:
* €30.000 - if we reach this funding goal, universe2go will get telescope connection functionality. (You will need a separately sold wireless device to interface with your telescope)
More details about the goal and the next stretch goal will be given when each of the stretch goals are reached. There a some exciting options down the line!
Spread the word
Even if you do not want to fund universe2go yourself, maybe because you are not so much into night sky and astronomy, you can support us!
- Tell friends about this campaign and the idea. Share it on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ or any other social media platform.
- All I want is, to make universe2go come to live and share my enthusiasm about the night sky with others.
Martin has a PhD in quantum chemistry. He previously worked for Bayer as innovation manager. Today he is CEO of innospiring and teaching at the University Bonn-Rhein-Sieg. His passion is inventing and astronomy and he has a daily blog - morgenraum.com. The whole universe2go team is made up of programmers, a graphics designer and an audio engineer.
Thank you! Yes, you! For all you out there who helped me coming this far with my idea. For all the encouragement and motivation and criticism and advice.
My very special thanks go to: Marion Hofmann, Michael Hoock, Sebastian Madgwick, J-P Metsavainio, Paul Schlyter and Isidro Villo.
And thank you to all the new supporters of universe2go. Let's create a new way of sharing our love for the stars!