The Virtual Thunder Dome

February 26, 2008

Imagine a virtual environment that you could actually physically move around in. Your body, while moving in the real world, guides the path of your virtual avatar. Imagine an environment similar to a Star Trek holodeck, where you could explore unconfined to physical space restrictions.

Seem to good to be true?

Well, it is. But this product is going to try anyway. For some reason, I just don’t see this sphere thing catching on.

Advertisements

Tools of the Trade: Ajaxlife.net

February 24, 2008

Problem: Got a work computer, or a laptop, that doesn’t have the graphics muscles to run Second Life? Do you need to chat with your contacts/friends in Second Life, but don’t really need to eat up processor time?

Possible Solution: Ajaxlife.net

My Observations: Accessing Second Life (an Multiple User Virtual Environment) normally requires downloaded software. To experience the world in all it’s 3D glory, you do need a somewhat beefy graphics-capable computer system…something I do not have in my work office. Enter from stage right Ajaxlife. Ajaxlife is a web based interface for Second Life. You don’t get all the pretty pictures, or get to move around, or voice talk, or even see anything for that matter. What you do get is this:

Access To

  • Your inventory (and the ability to sort)
  • Avatar profiles (and thus the ability to contact them)

Search Capabilities

  • You can find non-friend Avatars

Communications

  • Local Chat (Text chatting with avatars located near you in the Second Life sim world)
  • Instant Messaging (think of it as a person-to-person text chat)

Tools

  • Scan for nearby Avatars (since you are blind, comes in real handy)
  • Stats (tells you when there is serious lag in world)

Travel

  • Ability to TP to another location via the map


Bottomline:
Incredibly useful tool for those needing access to the communication features of Second Life when they are away from a graphics-capable machine. It is very difficult to Teleport to another location, since you are as blind as a bat (my apologies to all the bats out there), which may prevent widespread use. No download required! Fairly simple to use (EXCEPT for traveling).

…and btw…this was developed by a teenage girl!


Of HUDs and Cybernetic Implants…

February 20, 2008

Recently read the “Metaverse Roadmap” study report http://www.metaverseroadmap.org/overview/

I am fascinated by the augmented reality analysis section. It purposes that within 5-20 years, we will have a wide range mobile technology tools that will “augment” our reality with digital information. Imagine a HUD in your glasses or contact lens that displays internet / metaverse information, such as mapquest-like directions complete with pointing arrows appearing 3-dimensionally displayed in the real world. Or a google-like search engine interface accessible anytime anywhere. Or, a text profile information feed floating above local structures or even people (“Hey…I’m single and looking for bla bla bla…”). I can also see it becoming a nuisence, such as web pop-up ads (“Hey…over here…this beast of a car has an inline hemi with bla bla bla…).

There are an infinite number of potential applications to this sort of technological capability. Imagine the changes in education, training, customer interaction. I could even see a day that many businesses forgo an actual brick-and-morter business in exchange for a virtual storefront for their product (I can just see the scene from the Matrix where the long row of guns rush by Neo upon command). But why stop there! You can embed your product with a nano-chip complete with a virtual store. A person is walking down the street and sees, oh wow, the perfect pair of shoes worn by someone on the other side of the street. On command (maybe an eyeflick or voice command or a neural receiver) your HUD pulls the information from the chip and sends your HUD and image of the virtual store, where you can browse that and other available shoes (and of course purchase with a click and have it shipped to your home).


Metaverse U Conference

February 16, 2008


Fascinating stuff was addressed at Stanford’s Metaverse U Conference today. I attended from within Second Life at Scilands island. The event was live webstreamed onto a bigscreen inworld. I would say roughly 40 people were in attendance in-world and maybe 60ish in real world. In-world participants not only could submit questions to an real-world moderator and have that moderator ask the speaker, but also conducted their own in-world text discussion over open chat lines.

The most fantastic presentation was by Jon Brouchoud (Wikitecture). I found the open-sourcing and massively outsourcing of architecture very promising, but the most interesting was the information display he developed. Users can come to the in-world island and via a 3-Dimensional display, know the status of various plans. Via a tower interface, users can load, inspect, and contribute to a plan.

This tool of information collection, manipulation, and display is exactly what I believe the world is heading towards. With the increase of the amount and availability of information, it is quickly becoming a world where those that can orchastrate and synthesize information excel. It is not enough to know about one subject. It is not enough to know how and where to get multiple sources of information on any subject. It is the ability to take massive amounts of diverse information, quickly, and synthesize that into nuggets of useful relevant and timely knowledge that will be most needed in the coming future. These emerging virtual tools will slowly develop into the tools used by such people in the future.

Needless to say, it’s an exciting time to be involved with the emerging virtuality.


Goodbye Policy Handbook, Hello Policy Wiki

February 12, 2008

For the most part, I work at a place that is fairly innovative. We do things that often require us to re-write the policy and procedures book to allow us to provide a particular solution to our clients. But even so, we are still tethered to the standard linear, paginated, print-it-cause-we’ll-eventually-have-to-read-it policy book format. I suggested to a like-minded digitally-adept coworker the other day that we should scrap the book and use an internal wiki.

Well, I just finished transforming one policy handbook into a wiki. I used the EXTREMELY SIMPLE (and totally free) tiddlywiki . Basically, I copied and pasted the various segments from the handbook into the html-based wiki, then added all the tags. Now for the big sell at tomorrow’s staff meeting. I hope that by providing them an example of the handbook in wiki form with some basic instructions, they will see the potential.


Dispatch from Second Life

February 10, 2008

Object-Name: D3B1
Region: Pockwock (263680, 252160)
Local-Position: (207, 23, 63)

Just spent the last hour or so sorting through my virtual inventory and some of my personal builds in 2L. I tweeked my Droid’s email script to allow me to blog straight from in-world on-the-fly. Also got to use the teleport feature I installed. more to follow…


Virtual Reconnaissance

February 10, 2008

It is my intention, in the coming months, to dive into as many different virtual worlds as possible. Thus far, I have a pretty good take on Second Life. I have recently dug into Dofus, Multiverse, and Active Worlds. Next on my list are Entropia, There, and somehow Forterra and Open Croquet. I’ve pondered getting into World of Warcraft, but I just can’t bring myself to commit to the subscription fee.
I really wish to answer the following:
Which will emerge as the leading business training platform?
What are their capabilities from a training and consulting perspective?
Which is the easiest and most cost-effective to enter?
Which captures my imagination and holds it the longest?

In a nutshell, what are my findings thus far?
Second Life:
+ The most potential, Very beautiful graphics throughout, Relatively good security and privacy features, Quick to pick up on the interface yet feature-detailed enough for the tech crowd, Good interaction and communication features, Strong micro communities throughout.
Depending on where you visit you can run into a lot of childish jerks, Oftentimes laggy (pieces of landscape, body parts, clothing, movement missing or slowed), Lack of “Quest” or “purpose” can cause frustration.

Dofus:
+ Silly clean RPG fun, Clever artwork, Mildy entertaining storyline.
This is pretty much a kids game, People in-world hardly ever communicate so no strong communities, Graphics are a bit lacking.

Active Worlds:
+ So far I have found none
– Orientation left me with no useful information, Communication better than Dofus but lacking in substance, Graphics much better visually than Dofus but far under those of 2L.