Science On a Sphere® is built from standard hardware components and at its very basics is composed of off the shelf PCs, video projectors, wires, and a sphere. The PCs run a version of Ubuntu Linux. When installed in a room, the sphere is generally suspended from above and surrounded at the corners of the room by four video projectors. Only one computer is required to operate the whole exhibit, with a second computer as a spare.
Data is pulled from the disk, manipulated, re-projected and synchronized back onto the sphere. While the interactions between all of the hardware pieces are complicated, using the system is easy and straightforward. The system comes pre-programmed with various data sets that show the Earth’s land, oceans, and atmosphere, to name just a few. The data sets are organized through playlists. An SOS playlist is analogous to the MP3 player concept of a playlist.
A playlist is a simple text file that has a name and it contains the names of the various visualizations on the system. Playlists are used as a way to conveniently organize your SOS visualizations. Once a playlist is created, it can be loaded and used to give presentations. The items in a playlist can be randomly selected or played in sequence. The system allows for an unattended (or automatic) mode of operation or it can be controlled via a wireless Bluetooth remote.