Saving the best for last - FountainBlue's Virtual World Event

So Friday Sept.25 on the heels of the Engage Expo was FountainBlue's Annual Virtual World Conference "Virtual Worlds: Where We Were, Where We're Going, What Does It Mean to You?" The conference, held down at the Sun Microsystems campus, showcased presentations and panel discussions that featured key stakeholders, including entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and investors in the virtual world space.
The event kicked off with a presentation from host Michael Gialis, New Business Development for Sun Microsystem's Lab and Chief Technology Office. Michael is also one of the founders of the Virtual Worlds Roadmap Group and his presentation included results from a recent Virtual Worlds Roadmap industry survey.

After Michael was CTO of Masher Media Barry Holroyd. Later in the day, Masher Media's virtual world was presented and I must say that it has a great art direction, looks fun for those of all ages (I will play it), and is another great example of Unity3D technology for multi-user virtual worlds.
Benjamin Duranske an Associate at Pillsbury Winthrop gave an insightful presentation on the 'Overview of the History of Virtual Worlds, What is it, Where Has it Been?'

Following these opening presentations was a series of panels.
The first panel covered virtual world business trends. Moderator Sibley Verbeck CEO of The Electric Sheep Company led this panel including Joshua Bell Director of Technology Integration Linden Lab, Tim Chang Principal at Norwest Venture Partners, Benjamin Duranske, and Michael Gold CEO of Electrotank.

The second panel discussion covered
virtual world case studies and was led by moderator Jeffrey Pope, Founder of Virtual Worlds Roadmap Group, Former Virtual Worlds VC and Virtual Worlds Entrepreneur. Panelist included Jack Buser Director of Sony Playstation Home, David Helgason CEO of Unity, Greg Nuyens CEO of Teleplace (formerly Qwaq), and Damon Hernandez (me) Lead Web3D Outreach for the Web3D Consortium.

Some notes taken from and published on the Fountain Blue website:

  • Virtual Worlds offer a dynamic, ever-changing landscape of technology, community, interaction. Although Virtual Worlds have evolved over the past few decades, it is now coming to the mainstream, and its impact is deep and broad. It affects many facets of the way we do business from the financial, economic, technology and legal aspects, as well as HOW business is done, leveraging software the enables creative and dynamic interaction between people with virtual presences and online communities overall.
  • Virtual worlds are evolving from the walled gardens of the 1990s to more and more dynamic, interactive and creative sites that incorporate user content and creativity. This seems to be following the familiar evolution of the web itself; America Online and Prodigy became supplanted by more open browser standards from Mosaic.
  • Indeed, Virtual Worlds are evolving from a fad and a toy to a valuable business tool, serving and connecting various stakeholders. The graphics abilities introduced in the 80s and 90s brought in the era of avatars and games which were wildly popular, with some running still today. Now these graphics are being harnessed in virtual environments to effect value in a variety of non-game related use cases.

After the panels and lunch, Chris Platz, Creative Director of Sirikata from Stanford Humanities Lab and Computer Science, shared some of the amazing projects being done with Sirikata, Stanford's open source virtual world platform. Really interesting things being done here by this group with virtual museums and virtual live music performances. Following was Nicole Yankelovich, Principal Investigator, Collaborative Environments program including Wonderland v0.5 where Sun Labs demoed the new features/functionality and capability of their re-architected platform.

The last part of the event's track was to let visiting entrepreneurs that had been selected from an executive plan submission process pitch the audience and an investor panel for feedback. In addition to this pitch/feedback time, they also had the opportunity to show their applications and services in an available demo room. Among the presenting entrepreneurs was Immediate Mode Interactive, a group of pros from Florida that have an amazing collaboration service that runs simultaneously on mobile and web in 2D and 3D environments. Their service was super intuitive, easy to setup, and a low cost value add for any looking to use virtual worlds for collaboration among various devices and platforms.

Among the audience was a group from my generation that is throwing an event next year covering immersive tech and mixed reality technologies. Check out their website and I recommend all attend the event next year in LA. These gents were a pleasure to talk to as they saw the bigger picture of where all these technologies are converging.

A great job by
event organizer Linda Holroyd and her virtual world team of volunteers. Check out the Fountain Blue website for all the notes and presentations for the event. It is well worth the click.


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