Watch the demo video

Atlas Gloves:  A DIY Hand Gesture Interface for Google Earth

Build Your Own Atlas Gloves

May 8th, 2006 May 8th, 2006    11:13am 11:13am
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Making your own Atlas Gloves is easy, cheap and fast.

In 5 minutes and about $8 you can have your own pair of Atlas Gloves and practically have the world in your hands.

We have documented the way we recommend making Atlas Gloves though you might find a thousand other ways to make them. (if you do, send us photos, we would love to see what you come up with)

Ok, let’s start. First of all, equipment:


  • 2 White LED Keychains, we got ours at RadioShack.
  • 2 white Ping-Pong balls
  • 1 Glue Gun (or any other strong glue)
  • 1 Nail

Untie the keychain from the light.

Make a hole in the ping pong ball with the nail.

The hole should be big enough to acomodate the LED sticking from the lighter.

spread glue around the hole in the hole in the ping-pong ball. (you can use other types of glue as well but a hot glue did the job quite well for us)

Attach the lighter to the ball. Try to fit the LED into the hole you made in the Ping-Pong ball

Hot-glue around the connection to make sure the ball stays attached to the lighter.

Technically, you are ready to go. If you want the real thing go for the full monty with the stretching fabric gloves the experience is not full without it.

To prepare the gloves themselves you’ll need:

  • an approx. 2 inch wide stretching fabric
  • some thread
  • 2 pins
  • a sawing-needle (strong one)

  • atlasgloves_diy11.jpg
    Wrap the strap around your finger and mark it with a pin. Try to make the size fit your finger or the average finger width of the gloves future users.

    Saw across the pin.

    Wrap the lighter into the strap.

    mark the new position with a pin and saw across it.

    Cut the strap close to the last sawing. To make sure you don’t get loose threads use a lighter to burn the edges of the strap.

    Now you can fit the lighter into the glove.

    To keep the lighter firm inside the glove you can add another stitch through the keychain hole in the lighter base.

    That’s it you’re almost there. Now:

  • Make sure you have balanced lighting in the room and nothing brighter than your Atlas Gloves picks into the webcams view. If you can get a hold of a projector we recommend using it for display, the experience is beyond compare.
  • Download the application.
  • Open Google Earth on full screen view (F11)
  • Wear your Atlas Gloves.
  • Launch the application.
  • Now position yourself in the middle of the video screen. Play with the gloves a bit, when you’re ready light both hands at the top of the video frame, this will have you diving directly into the globe.
  • To exit back to practice mode light both hands at the bottom of the video frame.
  • …now you’re ready for what we have all gathered here today for… WORLD DOMINATION ! ! !

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    26 Responses

    1. Kibblesmith

      Sweet cannonballing Christ that’s amazing.

    2. Stefan Lorimer

      Nice take on the tactapad example. I’ve seen a few examples of this type of tech, like the high space table used at the pentagon. You guys really need to get this out on the net. It could revolutionize how a lot of apps are written. Please let us all know how we can build our own.

    3. RRE Embrunais Savinois

      I would be please to test your DIY atlas gloves for education projects in primary schools.

    4. Jim

      Yes, please post this! I’d like to learn more!

    5. David

      Awesome!!!!!!!!!…I can’t help but think of Moses, though: Who’se going to hold your arms up when you’re tired?

    6. Sonja Hortela

      I allways wanted to hug the planet!!!!

    7. john

      Sweet cannonballing Christ that’s amazing

    8. Atlas Gloves: A DIY Hand Gesture Interface for Google Earth

      […] sorry for the long wait, we wanted to polish the code and comment the source well before putting it here for download, but now it’s up. Go download the application and build your own Atlas Gloves. As you probably can imagine, this app is pretty hacky and is bound to work differently with different types of computers and webcams. We encourage you to play with the code and adjust it, we’ve made it as accessible as we could. Now it’s your turn. […]

    9. Ethan Bartoloc

      This is truly amazing. I love it. Can’t wait to get my hands on a projector. Thank you soooooooo much. OYu guys kick ass.

    10. Smauglys

      Hello this is my first post, i really wanted to try out this program, but it did not work or something went wrong, When I launch the exeutable it just stays grey, like there were no components in a new project. The problem might be that I’m using not a webcam but my camera used for filming, but it has such a feature that you can use as a webcam. Any ideas? And another question, do you just launch the exe or something more?

      Camera: Sony DCR-TRV 240
      Google earth V4

    11. Vestal Design Blog » Blog Archive » DIY Software Interaction

      […] Get two flashlights or make some nifty DIY gloves with ping pong balls and LEDs […]

    12. Nike Football Gloves

      […] Comments (0) […]

    13. Abeer

      I didn’t know mankind could make things like this! :)

    14. Atlas Gloves - Control Google Earth with Hand Gestures » Coolest Gadgets

      […] Atlas gloves are very easy to make (full instructions here) and with the help of a little free application you can navigate the globe by simple hand gestures. You’ve got to watch the video to appreciate how these things work, very strange. […]

    15. TonyJ

      Awesome!!!! cool and

    16. » Atlas Glove para interface Google Earth -

      […] Com apenas 8 dólares você poderá construir seu próprio par de luvas, e o software deste sistema está disponível para download neste endereço, caso você queira se aventurar com esta tecnologia, e ter literalmente “o mundo em suas mãos”. […]

    17. links for 2006-09-14 « Rob Edwards: Collection of my daily bookmarks: roedward

      […] Atlas Gloves: A DIY Hand Gesture Interface for Google Earth (tags: google diy earth howto hci maps googlemaps geography cool webcam interactive infovis) […]

    18. hugh


    19. nimitch

      good god man.. or close enough anyways :-)

    20. Joe’s Blog » Great sites

      […] I’m gonna find something to do with these: […]

    21. Spencer Riedel

      This is amazing. I’m really glad people are exploring this. Could this same application be used to control other programs like say… firefox?

      Thanks a lot,

    22. mushon

      Thanks Spencer.
      Basically it could… What we’re doing is imitating the mouse so this is a pretty hacky app. as much as you might be using Google Earth for that you could be using Firefox too. This would be a novel way of using the browser, though I doubt it would be a very useful one… Google Earth does not require as much precise controls as the browser does, so it works well with our interface.

      With that being said, do try it yourself with whatever software, this is basically why we released this as an open source software.

    23. milos

      Do I need a projector or can with ordinary PC?

      Please reply to me.

    24. MYQ w1n$t0n

      As you replied to Spencer, can you use this to imitate a mouse straight out of the box( with the original application), or do you need to modify the source code to get it to work as a mouse?


    25. mushon

      You can use the mouse emulator right out of the box, but the gestures are configured to work with Google Earth, so you might want to pop your head into the code and make some small changes. You can check the code here:

      Dan did a pretty good job of commenting it so maybe even if you’re not a coder it can help you through it.

      Good luck!

    26. Matt Canvas

      I want to try this with my college class, not sure about the lighter though, may have to hide that from health & safety! thank you