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Showing posts from 2008

IMHO this is a great book.

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IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) - a guide to the benefits and dangers of today's communication tools is a great book written by RJ Lavalle.

Texting on cell phones. Making friends on social networking sites like MySpace, or in visually rich Virtual Worlds. To some these new cultural phenomena are frightening, to others, the communication tools they were born into. What do they mean to you? The intention of IMHO is to make readers think, presenting the “facts” that proponents and opponents of these communication technologies use to support their positions in a way that lets readers determine what these facts really mean to them. Ultimately, IMHO is a reminder that the future of human communication is in our hands, and that we are the active participants in the shaping of it. - website

This lite read is available in paperback ($19.95) or as a download ($12.95). RJ's quest of understanding this time of Digital Natives is full of insight from industry thinkers such as Jamais Cascio and…

Cutting thru the virtual crap

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Taking a break from a holiday project to quickly share a couple of great resources of web3D enlightenment.

In a time where the 3D web is filling with countless virtual world consultants because people get bored at corporations, read Virtual World News (truly a great way to stay current), spend hours in proprietary virtual world platforms, or can re-create objects "in-world", use these links to get through this level of Ivy League enthusiasts, and to the pros of the interoperable 3D web.

1. 3D on the Web Cheap - Len Bullard's Blog
Anyone learning about the 3D web open standard should know this man's name. Len is an active participant and developer in the Web3D Industry. With an acumen that separates the 3D web builders from the WeeMees, his work and insight can be seen adding value all over the web. This is an awesome blog with web3D news, tutorials, and more for those of all technical levels. Click the link and you will learn something.

2. X3D 4 Enterprise - William Glas…

Grassroots video - For the 3d web, got X3D?

So I am busy doing research with the group on our first set of student Metaverse mash-up projects, and had to post this video to give all a glimpse of what is coming. This is the power of X3D. Enjoy.



Special thanks to fellow web3D student Tedd Robinson for his real and virtual world assistance, and Nick Carpenter who loaned out his avatar for the project.

Augmented Reality 101

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Augmented Reality (AR) is a "Mixed Reality" technology where the virtual and real worlds appear together in a real time system. An augmented reality system generates a composite view for the user that is a combination of the real scene viewed by the user and a virtual scene generated by the computer that augments the scene with additional information. This technology of movies like Minority Report is no longer science fiction, but has been for a while science fact.

Even though AR has been developed in research labs and used by the military (Office of Naval Research) for decades, it is only until recently that hardware and software is making it more accessible for the mainstream. In order to superimpose graphics over a real environment in real-time, one needs mobile computing, a tracking or identification system, and a display. Now with more powerful cell phones, Iphone, and other hand-held computing devices, AR is primed to move into the mainstream. Google's Android ph…

Web3d TechTalk 2008

As promised from my blog in August, here is my entry (now that there are videos) about the Web3D Tech Talk. At SIGGRAPH 2008, the Web3D Consortium celebrated its 10th anniversary with its best ever Web3D Tech Talk. Of course I may be a little bias as I participated in the event, but the tech talk show cased very cool uses of X3D and VRML with content and applications from various sectors and across all hardware platforms. No boring Powerpoints or spec jargon here at this standing room only talk that wowed the crowd with the technology that is defining the open 3D web. Participants from around the world showed off X3D applications that covered medical, educational, social, mixed reality, and other interesting uses of the tech. Enough of my writing, these videos speak for themselves:

Michael Aratow - Rationale for 3D standard for 3D medical imaging


Tony Pack - X3D to display and review seismic data


Johannes Behr - Beyond the Web Browser:X3D used for Virtual and Augmented reality


Damon Her…

Shout Out : 3PointD - A great source of news for the Metaverse

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3pointD.com reports on emerging 3D connectivity — a phenomenon sometimes called the metaverse — in all its manifestations. From virtual worlds like Second Life to applications like Google Earth, from cool mapping hacks that link up real-world locations to new ways of creating virtual ones, from concepts like folksonomy to the culture of online worlds, find news and feature articles about all that and much more at 3pointD.com, every day.-3pointD website
3pointD.com is a good resource of current news for all those interested in virtual worlds and Metaverse related technologies. Started in April 2006, edited by journalist Mark Wallace and sponsored by the Electric Sheep Company. Mark is a seasoned journalist, co-author of the book The Second Life Herald, and co-founder/Chief Executive of Wello Horld, a web start-up based out of New York. Since he is an active participant in the community, make sure to check out his blog and keep an eye out for Wello Horld.

If you build it they will come......but then what?

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I am sure most remember that Kevin Costner movie "Field of Dreams" and the line, "If you build it, they will come." This quote seems to also be the mantra for most if not all virtual world platforms. I have recently seen multiple companies build a platform, give people an avatar, movements, personal spaces to customize, and scenes to explore in hopes of catching huge numbers of virtual residents to monetize off of. Very cool idea, but then what?

I have spoken with hundreds of virtual world residents in all kinds of platforms and most express a similar problem, nothing to do. A growing consensus that I think the virtual world operators need to address. 3D chat and Feng Shui'ing a space can only hold so much excitement. Personally I feel it is not about the number of unique visitors or account sign-ups, but the return patrons. Imagine if World of Warcraft had no quests, PVP, or story line. Just create an avatar, move/animate in various 3D spaces, and chat. Would t…

Everyone Loves a Critic....Review #2 ExitReality

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Wednesday was the official launch of ExitReality, the free Internet plug-in that allows anyone to view a web page in multi-user 3D at a click of a button. I did blog about them a few months back when they were in closed beta, but now it's time for a full review.

The 4MB plug-in works with IE, Firefox, and Google's Chrome and installs a logo button on the browser toolbar for instant "web3D-ing" a site. It supports X3D/VRML and COLLADA content as well as an extension for interactive Flash as a texture. It has a drag/drop feature for adding content directly into any scene. I have found it does have issues loading interactive content, but it was still neat to see my static X3D converted World of Warcraft character and VRML body scan in-scene.

The interface is stylish and hugs the border of the 3d window. The top bar consists of an address bar that allows for "Launch in 3D or 2D", tabs for Search (it finds 3d content), chat, standard editing tools (move, rotate, …

The Roadmap for the Metaverse

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Back in February, Stanford campus was my home for a weekend of Metaverse real world events.

Friday the 15th - Metaverse Roadmap Workshop: Over forty different leaders and pioneers in Metaverse related industries were invited to discuss and collaborate on a continuation of the Metaverse Roadmap. For me, truly an honor to be invited to participate with the brightest people of so many different fields and technologies. The day was a mix of great speakers, presentations, and various break-out workgroups. Bridget Agabra, the ASF Metaverse Roadmap Project Manager, did a great job of organizing this fascinating event sponsored by Metaversum. A really cool event to be a part of.



Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th - MetaverseU Conference
This public event was a collection of presentations, panels, and open discussion covering various facets of the virtual/mirror worlds, augmented reality, and lifelogging. The conference was simulcast in Second Life to truly make it a mixed reality event. Beth Colem…

America's MOVES

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Founded in 2000, the Modeling, VirtualEnvironments, and Simulation (MOVES) Institute , a program at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), has created education and research programs supportingsimulation technologies used by Defense and Homeland Security partnersto train personnel and to analyze systems for operationaleffectiveness. The MOVES research program is designed to explore application of emerging technology to critical DoD modeling and simulation needs. Research focus areas are: 3D visual simulation and networked virtual environments Computer-generated autonomy and computational cognition Human-performance engineering and Immersive technologies Game-based simulation, understanding, and analysis Combat modeling and analysis The Insti…

For the Virtual Record: Second Life

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Second Life provides an online society within a 3D world, where users can explore, build, socialize and participate in their own economy. -Second Life website

Due to the amount of fan *cough* email I receive from "Second Lifers," I want to state for the virtual record, that I really have no problems with Second Life (SL) for what it is. I do visit it from time to time, have good friends that enjoy it, know those that make a living building content within it, and even know cool people working at Linden Labs.

Linden Labs, creators of Second Life, have done a lot to bring virtual worlds further into the public eye the past few years. Second Life is primarily composed of user created content. News of a virtual world millionaire, big brand interest, educational interest,congressional hearings, and a growing number of headlines show that people do see the utility of multi-user online 3D environments. I was in Second Life back when it had just a small following and not much to it…

Web3D Tool #2 - Vivaty (formerly Flux) Studio

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Vivaty recently announced the release of Vivaty Studio. Formerly Flux Studio 2 (MediaMachines), it is a web3D authoring tool for creating geometry, animation, and interactivity. It imports from a variety of formats, exports the open standard (X3D,X3dv,VRML) formats and Vivaty's own encrypted fx3d format. Here for a full feature list.

Although Vivaty Studio is a 3D modeling and animation application, the real value add of this application is the web3D authoring. I highly recommend Vivaty Studio for 3D artists and programmers.

For artists and those slightly familiar with standard 3D modeling software, it has a user-friendly UI to get one creating interactive content in no time. Simple wizards and drag/drop menu features can add basic functionality to 3D objects in a few clicks. Animations can be made in Vivaty Studio with a simple animation time-line or imported directly from other DCC tools (personally found COLLADA imports work best). Most of the 3D artists I work with love working…

Virtual Heritage - Adding culture to the Metaverse

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As a person who is intrigued by all the countries and cultures of the world, I love the progress that is being made for the Metaverse with virtual heritage.

Click on picture for example
Imagine a day in the near future, you just arrived on vacation at the Roma (Rome) train station and are heading down the road outside to the Colosseum. You see the ruin as you walk towards it, but then you decide to see what it looked like around 90 AD. Out comes your mobile computing device (cell phone camera, IPhone, PDA, or A.R. shades) and now you are looking at the Colosseum as it was back in the ancient days. You now access text, videos, and websites to learn more about it. You take a seat, and send a text to a friend online with an invitation to join you. Suddenly you see his avatar appear, armed up in traditional gear, and ready to fight. Looks like there's going to be a gladiator fight in the Colosseum again, this time across realities.

A scenario like this is closer than you think. Virtu…

ACM Siggraph 2008

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SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques) is the convention for all interactive device, 3D graphics, and related companies. Held this year in beautiful weather Los Angeles. SIGGRAPH is an interesting time, full of company announcements, product releases, workshops, tech discussions/classes, and more. For five days, people from all around the globe come together to geek out on a feast of graphics and tech. Tech panels, white papers, and workshops on all kinds of topics keep all the hallways busy as mainly entertainment focused booths dominate the expo floor. All the major Hollywood players are here, Disney, ILM, Dreamworks, and Pixar to name a few. Intel, ATI, and other hardware companies show off tech that could make any pc command center seem from 2050. Combine this with over a hundred other companies, universities, organizations, thousands of people, and what an event you get.

This year had to be the strongest presence of web3d so far at the show. The …

Virtual Worlds Galore

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"Scout", my house computer only used for virtual worlds, is becoming full of just plug-ins/clients and I am only in about 30 different VW's. It is becoming madness.




Now the trick is to get these worlds to build an opening in their walled gardens to the rest of the 3D web.

Web3D Tools #1: X3D-Edit

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Here is a great tool for all you programmers that work with or are interested in getting started with the web3d open standard X3D.

X3D-Edit is an Extensible 3D (X3D) graphics authoring tool for simple error-free editing, authoring, and validation of X3D scenes. X3D-Edit is written in XML and Java using the Netbeans platform and so is portable across major desktop and laptop operating systems (Windows MacOSX Linux Solaris).

X3D-Edit requires Java (version 5 or 6) and features include:
- Collada .dae model validation, code completion, and conversion to .x3d (XML) encoding
-direct editing of X3D scenes using the XML (.x3d) encoding,
-embedded visualization of scenes using the Xj3D viewer,
-XML validation against X3D DTDs and Schemas,
-drag-and-drop palette for X3D nodes,
-popup panels for node editing,
-extensive help resources.

A huge download, but way better than authoring in the standard text editor. There is a…

Avatars traveling between the 3D web and virtual worlds.

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I had to take some time to salute the work of Clive Jackson, CEO of Pelican Crossing, and his relationship with Peter Finn (Strategy and Innovation at IBM). They are working on a really cool idea for user travel between virtual worlds. Imagine a client with a cool interface that allows you to move between different 2D and 3D virtual worlds. So far supported are Blink3d, X3D, Second Life, Club Penguin, and more in the coming list.



The inDuality client is embedded in a Web page using standard HTML. The client determines the type of content to be rendered, checks to see if the needed files have been installed to support the content, and that they are up to date. The user then interacts with the virtual world in the same manner as they would through the original client.


I watched Peter give a demonstration where his avatar moved in-between virtual worlds by moving closer to the pillars in the plaza pictured above. Each pillar is an entry point to a virtual world. The transition from world …

Stanford's Metaverse Meetups

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Even though these events are from last year, they are great insight by two forward thinkers as to where the web is headed.

MM1 -Mike Liebhold, a Senior Researcher at the Institute for the Future, focusing on the mobile and abundant computation, immersive media and geospatial web foundations for context-aware and ubiquitous computing.




MM2 - Jamais Cascio is currently a Research Affiliate at the Institute for the Future. He writes about the intersection of emerging technologies, environmental dilemmas, and cultural transformation, specializing in the design and creation of plausible scenarios of the future. His work focuses on the importance of long-term, systemic thinking, emphasizing the power of openness, transparency and flexibility as catalysts for building a more resilient society. A TED 2006 conference speaker and co-founder of Worldchanging.com



Thanks to Henrik Bennetsen with Stanford for organizing these events.

Web3D Students

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The word student is etomologically derived through Middle English from the Latin second-type conjucation verb "stŭdērĕ", meaning "to direct one's zeal at"; hence a student could be described as 'one who directs zeal at a subject'. In its widest use, "student" is used for anyone who is learning. - Wikipedia

The year 2000, "1999" (Prince) was just getting out of my head, the Y2K bug didn't end the world, the bubble had burst, and I set out to search myself and discover what profession in life I would enjoy to do to the point where "I would never work a day in my life cause I love what I do". I picked the top rated things I liked (video games), was good at since a little guy (scene building and design), and valued (education and proactive change) and combined them somehow with the help of a SnowCrash into a new profession of wanting to build virtual immersive environments that were structured to different learning styles.

Af…

Immersive 3D Web? What? You mean virtual worlds, right?

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After becoming aware that more than just the nice folks at Vivaty were reading my blog (they promptly thank fans), I see the need to catch others (non-supernerds) up to what all my recent blogs are about. For those techies that know what Open Metaverse truly means, skip this blog, close the laptop, close the eyes, rub the eyes, open, and go talk with someone you enjoy. If you have little/no clue to what the Metaverse is, or if you think it is SL or OpenSimulator, please keep reading.

To see what smart collaboration (Open Metaverse Roadmap) had to say about the Metaverse last year, this is a must READ.
(warning-beyond this is my perception zone, not wikipedia)
Repeated visitors to my blog will see this graphic again.

What is the Metaverse?
Don't worry, I am not going to cover all these now, but these "domains" are converging into a mash up of technologies that will blur the line between the virtual and real via the immersive 3D web. This is the Metaverse, a mix of realities.
W…

Web3d Day - July 8, 2008

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What an interesting day for the web and me, but let's cover more of the web
1:23 am- I finished my review of the public beta launch of Vivaty and called it a day (see previous post).


8:35 am- Woke up, entered the web, caught up on known news, and read the IBM and Linden Lab Interoperability announcement. I applaud the people that worked on the project, really. Glad to see them making progress on what they set out to do. Beyond that, the press announcement was a tad bit over-dramatic.
"This is a historic day for Second Life, and for virtual worlds in general. IBM and Linden Lab have announced that research teams from the two companies successfully teleported avatars from the Second Life Preview Grid into a virtual world running on an OpenSim server, marking the first time an avatar has moved from one virtual world to another. It’s an important first step toward enabling avatars to pass freely between virtual worlds."
Sounds great to the public, and three cheers for SL …

Everyone Loves A Critic..... Review #1 Vivaty

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This review has been a long time coming but I did not want to share too much while these guys were in closed beta. Vivaty, the fun way to socialize and share your web stuff in a personal virtual scene (your stuff. your friends. your scene.), is now open to public beta. This multi-user 3D platform allows you to view and interact in the 3D web via a small browser plug-in for Facebook or AOL AIM.


Lets start with the spaces. The spaces take almost no time to load on a broadband connection and look really detailed. Nice job on the designs, lighting, fog, and backgrounds. They have an "open" feel to them and each has its unique style. One can tell this design team is a group of pros. Somewhere I can here "You can do it!", in the Governator's voice. The release is showcasing partnered scenes from Target and Coke Zero, some cool looking virtual dorm spaces.



The avatars are realistic with almost lifelike animations. There are a number of moods you can set for your avatar…