Inventing the Future

Places, Everyone!

Related to the URL addressing concepts discussed here, there is the question of how to denote places within a 3D world. I really like having names for these.

A typically engineering way to map out locations in a model is with coordinates. There are a couple of problems with this.

Numbers are generally pretty meaningless to users. I hate dealing in part numbers or account numbers rather than product and account names. Numbers just aren’t as mnemonic as a single name, and in 3D it takes a lot of numbers (six numbers of several decimal positions each) to describe the position and orientation you need to be in so that you can see something of interest.

Worse, a position and orientation are only interesting because of the things you can see and do there. If those things change (e.g., move, rotate, or change size), the coordinates for you to work with them are then different. We’re also interested in doing things in cooperation with other people. While it is true that unlike the physical world, several avatars can be in the same place, it is often cognitively and socially nicer to position a group of people around some item of interest rather than stacked up on top of each other.

Our client architect Brad Fowlow has led the development of several ways to address this by interactively or automatically creating a rather sophisticated set of named places from within-world.

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Inventing the Future

Voting and the Emergent Value of Presence

There’s a lot of interest in voting technology for the expected record numbers of voters in the US presidential election, and voting widgets have become an expected accessory in social Web sites. But the simplest voting technology is no explicit technology. Is there a place for that in virtual worlds?

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My Thoughts Exactly

Attention Howard Stearns

Now, THIS is what I call an avatar!

[Note to readers unfamiliar with Stearns: he’s the Wetmachanic who blogs under the “Inventing the Future” rubric, usually about avatars of some damn kind or other.][That’s a joke, son.]

Posted in "A Republic, if you can keep it", My Thoughts Exactly | Also tagged , | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

Dr. Evil to create virtual people

using government money:

EVL will build a state-of-the-art motion-capture studio to digitalize the image and movement of real people who will go on to live a virtual eternity in virtual reality. Knowledge will be archived into databases. Voices will be analyzed to create synthesized but natural-sounding “virtual” voices. Mannerisms will be studied and used in creating the 3-D virtual forms, known technically as avatars.

Leigh said his team hopes to create virtual people who respond with a high degree of recognition to different voices and the various ways questions are phrased.

Hope it does not cost ONE BILLION DOLLARS!

What’s that you say? Electronic Visualization Laboratory, EVL, not Dr. Evil, the archvillain?

Oh. Nevermind

Posted in I Fear These Things, My Thoughts Exactly | Also tagged , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Inventing the Future

The KAT

Our KidsFirst project includes a great deal of what we’ve learned about Croquet. We’re making all the code available through the CroquetSource code repository, as part of the Contributions collection of code that will be distributed in the forthcoming Croquet release. (This repository is available to developers ahead of release, as part of what David Reed calls “Invention in public.” For info on updating, see this movie and this discussion thread. There will also be a new image distribution shortly.)

We call this code the KAT – KidsFirst Application Toolkit. It fits over all the other Croquet SDK code without changing it. All the KAT-specific classes begin with K – partly for the KidsFirst project that informs its development, and partly as homage to Alan. As the code matures, you may or may not see some of the KAT code migrate down to the base classes from which it inherits. (For historical reasons, the name of the Monticello package is “Wisconsin.” This may change.)

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Inventing the Future

Transparent Computing

In What Is It About Immersive 3D?, I claim that being immersed in among the application components allows and encourages us to mix and match among bits and pieces of different applications. That is, we’re getting rid of the idea of having separate “applications” on a computer.

I forgot to mention the other aspect of immersive 3d: that we want to get rid of the computer. Well, actually, that we want to make using each application object feel like a real world object, not a computer thingie. The direct manipulation feel makes it easier to work with stuff, and the lack of indirect abstractions and symbols makes it easier to understand.

A few examples below the fold.

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Inventing the Future

Inventing the Future: the Croquet Generation

Older academics generally like Croquet demos, but they often give me the impression that they’re not quite sure what they’re looking at. We gave a demo this week to a young local reporter and she was much more enthusiastic. She wants to use it right now, as is. Julian tells me that anyone under 25 who sees Croquet goes nuts over it.

I was surprised. I assumed that younger folks would be jaded by video games. Our demos don’t have drop shadows or reflection. The fish world is not as cool as the one at the Boston Museum of Science. The avatars don’t walk and bend like the Sims. It’s a proof-of-concept, and the features and effects just aren’t like what you would find in a movie.

But I think people under 25 see Croquet and feel like it’s made for them. What school and office programs are really of their culture? Windows isn’t. (Maybe its for old farts that were too conservative to buy a Mac 20 years ago.) The closest thing to a mainstream generation Y app might be chat rooms, which are not rooms and you don’t actually chat, you type. Successfull, yes, but not exactly laden with Y culture.

Posted in Inventing the Future | Also tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments (Comments closed)
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