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This 3D-model changes how we visualize location intelligence

HERE and Berlin-based spatial branding agency Graft Brandlab developed a one-of-a-kind physical 3D installation that is capable of showcasing HERE location intelligence in action.

The kinds of services and information that HERE can provide to government agencies and other customers, right down to individual drivers and pedestrians, comes from a complex web of maps, sensor information, historical data and cloud computer power.

Our role at HERE is to manage, combine and communicate that information, like the conductor of an orchestra.

Explaining all that can be tough. We needed a physical installation to show how it all works.

The installation’s central piece is a beautiful, CNC-milled city model of San Francisco that was built using our LiDAR-based maps. A single projector positioned above it precisely maps the visualizations onto the model. Using a three dimensional projection ground creates a wealth of opportunities for new and exciting visualizations, but also comes with its own challenges.

We talked with the team at Graft Brandlab in Berlin to find out more.


Founding partner, Linda Stannieder, says, “In the beginning we thought we could laser print it or have it digitally reproduced, but the data we got from HERE was so good and detailed, that it was actually too much for the computers to handle. We had to radically simplify the data to create a model that worked for this purpose.”

In order for the projection to look sleek and precise, roofs needed to be flattened, facades had to be smoothed and any other details had to be removed.

Graft Brandlab’s Client Service Director, Sebastian Sährig, says, “One of the challenges was that the buildings naturally have different heights, which affects the sharpness of the image. So we had to be extra careful about the placement of important information in the animation. The trickiest part though, was keeping distortion close to the edges low. For this purpose we developed a custom grid that was used as a basis for the animation.”

The installation was primarily developed for trade shows: “It’s really making HERE’s capabilities very tangible. People can walk around the object and experience it from different angles – it turns data into a spatial experience”, says Alexandra Schindl, Design and Brand Strategist at Graft Brandlab.


Interestingly, one of the most important decisions took place at the beginning of the project: which city to choose?

Sebastian says, “We had a lot of discussions about whether we should go with Berlin or Chicago, which are both relevant for HERE, or whether it should be a fake city – some sort of ideal future city. We ended up using San Francisco and that’s not just due to the fact that HERE has awesome data about the city, but it’s also perfectly diverse for our model: skyscrapers, many flat buildings, hills, bridges and even water.

At the same time, our goal was to create a city that’s not instantly recognizable. People who have been to San Francisco might recognize it, but we excluded some landmarks like the Transamerica Pyramid for example because we didn’t what people to get distracted by the city itself.”

The model truly turned out to be an object of beauty in its own right with its minimal, matt grey surfaces. When the projection kicks in, it completely changes its character and focuses the viewer’s attention on HERE.

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