As a result of the Google Maps mashup contest organized by OJOBuscador and Google Maps Spain, I have had the opportunity to visit Googleplex. During one of the meetings I received a cool present from Peter Birch (PM of Google Earth): a SpaceNavigator, a 3D mouse device. Needless to say that it works great with Google Earth. Thanks Peter!
The device is highly sensitive, with movements of a few degrees/few millimeters (you won't be tired using it) and the more you get used to the six degrees of freedom it offers, the more you appreciate the smooth movements that you can easily do and the possibility to perform actions in Google Earth simultaneously without stopping repeatedly to change the action type.
With SpaceNavigator you can literally 'fly' inside canyons and amongst mountains. I'd recommend Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon as good places to practice :). I've used it a lot lately while working in the new features of Wikiloc for Google Earth.
The only downside: airport customs. I have to say I got as many blank-faced WTF-is-this looks as anyone could want. In San Francisco airport they asked me to open the box and after a while of examining the 'thing' the policeman said...
And this is...?
A kind of 3D mouse -I replied
A mouse uh?
Back in Heathrow airport in London, where they have very strict security measures lately, the same situation happened: weird faces staring and fingers pointing to the X-Ray panels (I'm not kidding), me saying “It's a mouse device...” but that time they even asked me to plug the thing in my laptop and use it. Luckily, I already had the drivers installed and everything went fine :)
Frankly I understand perfectly the security measures since the device is small but its weight to size ratio is huge since it's made of solid metal (zoom out is performed by pulling up the control) and the aspect is more of a detonator than a computer device or mouse. So expect that situation if you travel with such devices onboard. Perhaps from now on in San Francisco or Heathrow you'll hear something like 'everything's ok, it's just another SpaceNavigator'... :)
If you want to read more and even see some videos of SpaceNavigator in action, visit Stefan Geens or Frank Taylor posts about the subject.