The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Vito Technology Presents Solar Walk and Sky Walk

Vito Technology entered the market of mobile application development in 2001, but its latest applications have made it one of the best known organisations out there for developing iOS apps. Their two flagship apps, Star Walk and Solar Walk, are amongst some of the best apps that exist for the iOS platform. Star Walk is an interactive star map that can track the position of over 20000 objects in the night sky, while Solar Walk is a replica of the region within the solar system. Both apps are spectacular in visuals and functionality; I purchased them a year ago as apps to showcase the iPad 2’s graphics, but the apps have found use in locating objects for star gazing sessions.

Sky Walk

  • While not depicted here, the coolest feature in Sky Walk is augmented reality, the ability to project the stars onto the sky using the iPad’s camera. The system is calibrated using the position of a well-known object, and the app carries out the rest of the calculations.

  • Navigation and usage of the app could not be easier. Users swipe to move around, pinch to zoom and tap to select objects. Menu items allow users to customise the app settings, alter the time of the view and search for common objects.

  • Sky Walk costs 4.99 CAD in the app store, a cost that is considerably more economic than the 40 or so CAD the astronomy guides cost. Then again, the iPad itself makes it expensive.

  • What’s cooler than being able to look at the sky at various positions and times of day? How about the ability to look up things that one may or may not be familiar with?

Solar Walk

  • Remember 100000 stars? That neat web-app could not run on Safari or iOS devices natively. Now imagine a version for iOS that does something similar for objects in the solar system that is just as visually stunning and easy to use.

  • As per Sky Walk, Solar Walk uses a similar UI and navigation schema, making it easy to use one app if one is familiar with another. This cross-program consistency makes Vito Technology’s software usable- such a paradigm means that users familiar with one product from a company will be able to pick up another product with minimal trouble. From the end-user perspective, this makes it easy to get something done. From the developer’s end, it will mean repeat business.

  • Tapping the screen once hides the HUD, allowing the iOS device to be used as a cool photo frame. The graphics are spectacular: years ago, stuff like this was merely fiction, but radical advances in processor technology have made some once-fictional technology, like high-resolution multitouch UIs, a reality.

  • Solar Walk costs 2.99 CAD in the app store, two dollars less than Star Walk. A recent update has allowed for the app to be streamed to an HD display, further extending the app’s usefulness in showing off the coolest parts of the solar system.

Stargazing and astronomy are two pursuits I’ve had since my first pair of binoculars fourteen years ago: when I first started, things like iPads and electronic sky maps were still constrained to research institutes and science fiction. Instead, I have a small collection of astronomer Terence Dickinson’s stargazing books, which provide maps of the sky and guides for amateur astronomy. I am a binocular stargazer and have witnessed a handful of cosmic events, such as lunar eclipses, auroras, meteor showers, planetary conjunctions and the like with nothing more than the naked eye, and have found many well-known astronomical features with a simple pair of binoculars, reflecting on the fact that the hobby itself can be as simple as keeping an eye and ear open for events and looking at the sky. Of course, the shiny apps we have now augment the experience; if I were to ever bring the iPad into the field, the Sky Walk app has a nifty feature to preserve our night vision.

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