Watershed Days 2017

Tangibly Smart

An interactive watershed in your hands

Brendan Harmon, Anna Petrasova, Payam Tabrizian, Vaclav Petras, & Helena Mitasova

Tangible Landscape

A tangible user interface powered by open source GIS.

Tanigble interaction with GIS

With Tangible Landscape you can hold a watershed in your hands - feeling the shape of the earth, sculpting its topography, and directing the flow of water.

Why tangible?

  • Using your body is natural.
  • Using a mouse and keyboard is not natural.
  • Collaborating with a mouse and keyboard is really hard.
  • Interacting with scientific models is even harder.

How it works

Tangible Landscape couples a digital and a physical model through a continuous cycle of 3D scanning, geospatial computation, and projection.

Realtime 3D scanning

with a Kinect sensor.


sculpting excavation patches points directions

Watershed analysis in

r.watershed r.stream*
r.sim.water r.sim.sediment
r.lake r.hydrodem
r3.gwflow r.fill.dir
r.carve r.drain
r.dam.flood etc...


Applications: 3D planting

Planting patches of 3D trees by placing pieces of color coded felt and markers.

Applications: 3D planting

Planting patches of 3D trees by placing pieces of color coded felt.

Applications: erosion control

Modifying land cover with colored felt to reduce erosion.

Applications: 3D soil moisture exploration

Applications: 3D soil moisture exploration

Exploring subsurface volumes as if digging with an excavator.

Applications: Dam breach simulation

Simulate dam breach scenarios.

Applications: coastal flooding

Building coastal defenses to save homes from storm surge.

Open source

Tangible Landscape plugin for GRASS GIS

GRASS GIS module for importing data from Kinect v2

Tangible Landscape repository on Open Science Framework

Build your own!

TypeProduct exampleCost
SoftwareTangible Landscape plugin for GRASS GIS$0
ComputerSystem76 Oryx Pro$1500
DisplaySamsung 23.6-Inch UHD-QHD Monitor$350
ProjectorEpson PowerLite 1761W$600
3D sensorXbox One Kinect$100
Kinect Adapter for Windows$40
StandAvenger 40-Inch C-Stand with Grip Kit$200
2 x Avenger 3-Inch Baby Wall Plate with Swivel Pin$80
Kupo Convi Clamp with Adjustable Handle$25
Kupo Grip Head with Hex Stud$30
Kupo 20-Inch Hex Grip Arm$40
PeripheralsHDMI cable, extension cord$20
Modeling mediaWaba Fun Kinetic Sand 11 Lbs$50


Tangible Landscape website

Tangible Landscape wiki

Tangible Modeling with Open Source GIS

Immersive Tangible Geospatial Modeling