VR Cave, Second Life and Retail at the NRF

All things virtual featured in the latest NRF retail show. I spent some time talking to my collegue in Second Life a fellow member of eightbar Siobhan Cioc about the Dallas based GSC demo centre.
There is a background story to this that is also of interest to the Web2.0 community trying to establish the value of both blogging and virtual worlds.
I had seen a press release about IBM at NRF. Now that the metaverse acceptence has spread there are too many things and spin off for even us tuned in metaverse evangelists to keep up with. So here is what happened….
I saw the press release and the mention of a CAVE demo. I blogged internally about it to see if anyone had anything. Of course many of the people involved were at the show so that was always going to be a slow burn approach. However the question was out there, what are we doing? Then an article about NRF appeared on our intranet with a link to … yes an NRF blog. I tracked back on the blog entry asking the question again about the SL/Cave piece to try and connect the threads. Sobhan Cioc’s real life presence both replied on my blog and also sametime instant messaged me. We then both dived into our public SL islands where she explained what the project was all about. I listened and also took a small snap of film which I just put on youtube.
Now we have connected, discussed who we know in common, worked out some ways to help one another becuase we both used all the available technology and approaches to connect with one another. Why blog inside a company firewall….. Well there is your answer. We get people connected and questions answered. Some instantly.
I digress (I think I may have turned into Ronnie Corbett)
So the cave project. You may be able to see this here though I am not sure how well the link will work to the fox news item I will post a better one when I find it, this is hot of the press after all.
So just in case here is the explanation with some SL footage.
The team have created a configurable room in SL. The room is HUD controlled. The HUD allows elements in the room, in this case TV’s, Speakers and even the starlit sky above it to be adjusted. This approach has been shown before in various ways, the Circuit City couch and the Sears kitchens over on IBM 10. The difference here though was that the demo was built to specifically integrate with a head mounted display and the booth was build for this sort of interaction to occur.
Yes we have seen 3d rooms in VR before, but the difference here is this is on a public multi user platform. Much of what we saw with VR before was single user or just very expensive. This example was at a general retail conference, mainstream.
Being able to configure an room or a product experience and be able to share it with others, whether they are friends, other people with a vested interest and/or experts from the store or business is a very significant point.
Having a booth with a single SL or metaverse experience is good, but in some ways having multiple headset stations to help people see that someone else is going to join them may have made this more obvious to people that others need to be involved in the process.

I think we will see lots more concrete examples this year both of additional interfaces into virtual worlds, but more importantly interaction with existing enterprise systems such as product fulfilment.
Another thing to consider is scale here. People often worry about how many people can you get in one space, Roo has a good post on the way very soon. Here we have an example that if you are having a personal shopper experience you do not want a huge crowd of thousands around you?

2 thoughts on “VR Cave, Second Life and Retail at the NRF

  1. Pingback: eightbar » Blog Archive » More connections, more possibilities

  2. Pingback: The Grid Live » Second Life News for January 18, 2008

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