Sport Relief 08 – Springy Shoes and AllStars Vs Lindens

As a follow up to yesterdays post members of the “Sport Relief Fund Raisers” have now received a pair of springy shoes ready for the racing fund raisers. As you can see they go well with any avatar though not my usual choice of footwear.
Whilst the sim can be opened up for members of the press we have also received a teaser poster. Lets face it its tomorrow that it starts so we can all go along together.
All pictures from the fabulous Snapzilla

Details so far to the group have been as follows:

Group Notice From: Lottie WeAreHere

Ok racers we are nearly there and yeah yeah the red item is on it’s way :p

So how do you raise money (important!). Friday at the Official Sims you lovely people get VIP access. There will be a fab Donation Bucket.

This Bucket allows you to rez copies at home/or take around as you race on Saturday. People pay the donation bucket the amount they sponsor you.

It also tracks who raises the most on the official leaderboards and all is routed to the official avatar ‘Support SportRelief’.

Group Notice From: Lottie WeAreHere

You raise the most, be it by holding an event and putting the buckets out or racing the grid and using your shmoozing skills to get cash in? (See the leaderboards across the sims)

We’ll invite the person raising the most to the All Stars Team versus the Lindens on Sunday 9pm on the official sims.

There is a bit more to that notice but its a secret so you have to join Lottie’s group to find out 🙂

Sport Relief 08 – Charity Fundraiser in Second Life

The excellent chairity Sport Relief is holding a charity event 14-16th March in Second Life. There are various press releases flying around but as this is for a good cause then a little bit of viral marketing does not go a miss. The sim’s themselves are not yet public but the avatar based racing looks like it will probably need you to join the group “Sport Relief Fund Raisers” owned by Lottie WeAreHere.
I am sure I will be able to get along and participate, and as with many of the other charity events we can all do some good with our virtual world presences and get donating.
If you are not sure what this is all about then check out the official sport relief site
More to come over the weekend and good luck to everyone running it.
*Updated the dates and the group name 🙂

Crossing worlds – Video Avatars

I recently tried a little experiment using the excellent Live! Cam Avatar application I have, the one that I re-did Daz with.
In this is tried using a live avatar from one place, namely my machine and injecting it into Second Life as video feed. Its a simple but effective demonstration of pushing live content around.
The key to this is that the video avatar was a live puppet, in this case singing a song from an audio stream. The mapping is just a sphere texture, but I know done with more care it would work on a scultpy.
So I can have an avatar from one system injected into another in a simple but effective way.
We can of course take this further with better data interchange, but this show what we can do now. I know that this video avtar on a bubble can be moved around from external stimuli too. i.e. the mapped prim can be moved becuase of an event external to second life. So technically (as I own the parcel) I could walk around and act as a normal avatar despite being rendered on another system entirely.

Compare and contrast – SXSW

Roo is off at the fantastic SXSW conference in texas. You can follow his fun and frolis over on his blog I found it quite amusing that we posted individual photos up on flickr customizing out respective laptops, which I thought worth a comparison.
Mine was the arrival of my epredator Moo stickers with QR codes which I thenk stuck on my work Lenovo T61 Thinkpad and eightbar.
Moo Stickers
Roo on the other hand had got his new personal MacBook Pro custom laser etched in Texas with an autobot logo
autobot macbook
Just to keep the linked flow of things Roo also twittered he was just off to the Moo party 🙂
Note also how this was not about us hooking up and following one another via one single social network or virtual world. Both Twitter and Flickr and various blogs also feature in keeping us appraised of what one another is up to. Even though in this case Roo is having the lions share of the fun and a little bit of Metaverse Evangelist PR 🙂
*update I just noticed this said comments were turned off. That was unintentional despite the spam we get, normal service is now resumed, it must have been the mad UK weather ATM.

Spimes, Motes and Data Centres

A few of you may have noticed recent coverage around on the blogs about Michael Osias’s 3d datacentres. Ugotrade has as usual a great write up and analysis. You may have seen the work that our friend David Orban has been doing with OpenSpime. What’s that all about I here some of you ask?
Spime is a word that Bruce Sterling created, along with Spime Wranglers(The people who control and gather information from Spimes). The Spime being a self contained small device that broadcasts all sorts of information about its surroundings. Again Ugotrade has covered this in some depth in Tish’s most recent post
For a while here in Hursley Andy Stanford-Clark has been using the term “mote” as in remote and we have shown his instrumented house replicated in Second Life. Also Dave Conway-Jones has been busy with various forms of sensors and actuators. Also in some of the public research going on here for sensor arrays of the future spime like devices are being simulated in game environments to aid in understanding what would happen if they were applied to a large area.
So it would appear that Hursley and many members of eightbar are in fact Spime Wranglers already.
This ability to instrument the world fits into the principles of mirror worlds rather than the pure escapist virtual worlds and metaverses. Being able to augment reality, or augment virtual reality requires masses of live information, so a Spime or a Mote array is fairly crucial to the whole thing. In many ways instrumenting a data centre makes the data centre an entire spime in its own right, so you can see these things are linked very closely.
The balance of a nanotech generic smart dust gathering generic information but organic patterns forming for that versus specific devices understanding the monitoring of piece of information will make for interesting wrangling decisions too.
My key interest in this at the moment is using this approach to not just monitor and report on the real world, but on multiple virtual environments. A spime can be virtual too.
Finally, as I twittered this to David. I cant get the song out of my head Spimerman, Spimerman does whatever a Spime can. So maybe the Spime wranglers are going to be the information superheros for the next generation.

Interaction the way we want it as Humans

I noticed a great post by Christian over on the Cisco virtual world blog about the rise of expectation in new interfaces. I think in nearly every pitch I do towards the end I remind people that we seem to have tied ourselves to keyboards, supposedly to stop typewriters jamming, mice for navigation of 2d windows, and a few other metaphors for interaction that we are now in a position to break away from. I wrote some of this last year in a mini predictions post
One of the things people always seem to say on entering a virtual world (those who are not metarati or gamers) is the fact it is hard to move around. That may not be the case in reality, but just as people struggled with a mouse and menus and windows 15 years ago, they are doing the same with arrow keys, mouselook and the various other convaluted ways we seek to interact with the computer.
Clearly people’s expectation of display devices will be changed by the multitouch iphone, or simple gesture interaction as we see with the wii controller. All that is well trodden technology in some respects now. It has become commercially robust and is now in all our hands to push things forward.
Another exciting development and one I am sure we will cover in a lot more depth in the near future is Emotiv. There is a great BBC article on it here and you will notice a certain company mentioned alongside it and those of you at GDC may well have seen it. A very soon to be available commercial device to detect brain patterns and allow us to interact with the machines in yet another way.
Combine all these with the augmented reality, projection, headset approaches and we have a very rich set of tools to work with to see how we as humans are able to free ourselves from some of the self imposed shackles we have for interaction. Another article here on Kurzweil’s keynote at GDC hints at an even deeper future
Of course, thats not to throw away any of the old ways, we still use command lines where needed, we still use books and print where needed, but having more and richer things more suited to an indivuals neuro linguistic programming stack, or adding in accessibility for all so we can all interact however and wherever regardless of particular limitations can only be a good thing?

The Eightbar brand – another angle

Well you have seen eightbar represent itself all over the place. A meta-guild across multiple virtual worlds, a very large Second Life group, Eve corporation, even a Halo 3 clan. We have tshirts virtual and real, custom ferrari’s on Xbox and even been in a book. However our very own Graham spotted that we were missing what can best be described as a gang sign.
Last night in Winchester as a night out paid for by Daz (thankyou again Daz, who also pays for the hosting of this sign was thrown for the first time. It’s fairly self explanatory 🙂
Eightbar street sign

Powerup – A serious game out in the wild

Powerup the game recently went live created by our colleagues here in IBM using the Torque games engine.
It is a scenario based game, with a multiplayer online team approach to help students understand the role of science in saving a planet.
This fits into the growing usage and acceptance of game based technology and finding ways to engage people in serious subjects but in a more entertaining way.
The game is a downloadable windows client, that then connects to the main servers.
I captured a little video of some of the elements, the frame rate is much better live of course.

You get to select a first and second name from a list. This is to avoid any risky names I believe. So for once I am not epredator, but I did log on as Ian Hughes, imagine that! Though I did manage to only select the female avatar.
The rest of the communication is via menu systems, not freeform chat, again this is a protection mechanism given the target audience for the game.
Players can join missions, that are typically sharded ones and tasks are designed for more than one person to help complete.
The official website has much more information for parents and teachers. We here at eightbar cannot claim to have built any of this, though we have known about the development as its obviously closely related to our Torque based internal metaverse and is another spin off of bringing IBM into virtual worlds and games in general (which I think we can rightly claim to have set the ball rolling on 🙂 )

Holly on the BBC, Its not all Roo and I on virtual worlds you know

At the VW Forum Europe in October Holly Stewart was thrown in front of the camera for a BBC click interview. Holly/Ada Alfa has been in with this since very early on and is very much core to eightbar. Not only that but she is currently the jointly elected guildmaster for our Virtual Universe Community.
It has taken a while but the BBC just ran it on BBC click as part of a virtual worlds piece. The page is here and UK people can watch the video.
A few small things, Its Holly Stewart not Stewarts, and the other IBMer is Paul Ledak not Paul Ladek, but you cant have everything can you.
**Update as Holly just pointed out on twitter the IBM SL machinima used in the piece was Rob Smart’s work too so credit where credit is due too 🙂
The key angle is also about interoperability, as you will notice this has been a bit of subject lately.
Anyway well to done our Holly for a great piece to camera. At last I cant take Click off series link on Sky+
Also greta perfomances from Valerie from ESC, the ubiquitous Justin from RRR and a great advert for Corey’s Multiverse in the middle of it.
Just for the record I think we (eightbar) have appeared on virtual worlds on click 3 times now in some way or another. Now where is the royalty cheque?
Holly on tv

Exploring communication options in that metaverse middleground

As part of a bit of forward thinking I have been doing more experimenting with some levels of visualization. Working on the assumption that all video or all avatar is not the only way forward.
One way and another I ended up using Daz’s very amusing photo from flickr to illustrate the point here.
This is a mix of a static photo (an insane one) blended into an emotive 3d-ish representation, but with a synthesized voice from txt.

Daz crazy talked up from his 2d… photo they will not read my mind
and speech synth lyrics by kanye west
I did a one of these the other day on my blog which was a little more just to see if the technology worked, but also let me see if that would help in expressiveness and enhance a pure video conversation (which I think it does).