The Mapzen TRON2.0 project is nothing short of awesome. Visually-speaking, it's everything that the geospatial world needs in order to generate a mass appeal for maps. While standard web-mapping systems like Google Maps, Bing, and OpenStreetMap are excellent (functionally and visually) they lack the sci-fi, futuristic feel which TRON2.0 oozes.
The TRON2.0 project is something which I recently discovered on Mapzen's website. If you're not familiar with them, Mapzen is an American based company which provides a mapping platform and developer tools. The TRON2.0 project was built on something called Tangram which is a flexible mapping engine, designed for real-time rendering of 2D and 3D maps. According to the Mapzen site, TRON2.0 is an attempt to push the rendering power of a graphics card to it's limit.
In case you're wondering about the name, Tron refers to a 1982 American science fiction action-adventure which was released as a movie in 2010. The movie is centred around a computer programmer who is transported inside the cyberspace world of a mainframe computer where, as a programme/character called Tron, he battles other manmade programmes which assume the appearance of their human creators. Sounds confusing? It is - but these maps are still pretty darn cool.
TRON2.0 is described as a project with focuses on the "language of light". It's based on the concept of designing a multi-dimensional map where patterns change according to the zoom level. According to Mapzen, TRON2.0 is about oscillating, interpolating and stretching the values between two colors in order to create a "whole new spectrum of light, a spectrum that we assign programmatically to moving lines of traffic, fading buildings walls, neon highways, hillshades and shimmering oceans." It contains dynamic and animated patterns which glow, move, distort and pulse in order to provide a richer user experience than most web-mapping applications.
Developers can work with the GLSL code through the Tangram Play editing environment. Here, YAML files containing scene specifications can be developed, modified, and customised as desired.
Wherever your allegiance may lie in the geospatial world, it's impossible to deny that TRON2.0 is an excellent demonstration of the technology's potential. Up to this point maps have always been considered functional and useful, not cool. My opinion is that projects like TRON2.0 could change all of this and thereby inspire more people, young and old, to journey into the future.
Learn more about TRON2.0 here. NB: This is not a sponsored post.