But wait, don't answer!

There is an application of lenticular printing that is not merely an eye-catching gimmick. A company called UrbanMapping produces a map called a DynaMap that layers three different views of Manhattan onto one surface:

  1. Street Level (yellowish background with blue and black streets)
  2. Subway system (blue background with subway colors matching the lines)
  3. Neighborhood (shades of reddish-oranges)
Want to know the nearest subway entrance? Find yourself on the street map and tilt it. Your eyes are in the same place and can easily scan for subway stations, uncluttered by other map elements. Want to know where the Chelsea district is? Tilt it a little further, and the streets/subways vanish, showing only the neighborhoods and landmarks.

You can even bend or tip the map just so to slighty blend the images, so you can see exactly where on Broadway the G line stops, for example.

I've got one of them. It's beautifully executed, easy to use, and a brilliant use of an old analog technology.

It's also elegantly restrained. Modern lenticular technology can cram as much as 100 images into a single space. This works great for video-like displays, but trying to isolate a single image requires great precision in the viewing angle. DynaMap picked its three layers and stuck with them. They are now planning a series called PanaMap that will include San Francisco, Washington DC, Chicago and Boston.

It hints at a new style of layered, analog information/interaction design, in which information is related spatially, but distributed in time, in a low-cost, no-power (in use), hi-res medium.

I can't mention DynaMap without telling the sad part of the DynaMap story. It was designed by Ian White in 2001. Despite his good idea, earnest efforts, and 3 years of time and money investment, he was a lone designer against the shifty business world. Big Publishers are now stealing the idea and are in the process of producing knockoffs without compensating him for the use of his intellectual property. He hasn't the resources to fight. You can read a little about his frustrating journey at Core 77, URL below.

You can also patronize the site at www.urbanmapping.com