Fab Fabjectory

I have been laid up with chickenpox for the past week, which has meant no blogging, no Second Life. Today was my first day back at work, though only from home as I am still infectious. So it was a great start to the day to be in to sign for my parcel from Michael at fabjectory. A few weeks a go I stood for a capture session in SL, and am now the proud owner of this excellent epredator potato figure straight out of a 3d printer.
fabjectory print
Michael did some work to make sure my custom Reeboks came out, and they are very very good.
custom reeboks
I decided to wear Judge Hocho’s eightbar t-shirt with my real life leather jacket.
8bar t-shirt
The plinth is also printed with the avatar name, a nice touch.
It is great to have something like this, having wanted to get something going with 3d printers for a good few years, and to have this blended with Second Life is even better.
top view
It has been great to catch up on all the coverage we got for the innovation jam results and having just taken a tour of Second Life its amazing what changes in a week just in our spaces.

Innovation Jam results

This years Innovation Jam was the third of IBMs jams. It was mainly web based, with over 150,000 people (IBMers as well as their families, business partners, universities, clients, …) apparently generating over 46,000 ideas.

Of course, as you’d expect, some of the fun happend inside Second Life too. This was a joint effort between IBM’s Virtual Universe Community and the NMC, with the Alliance Navy providing security and joining in the discussion too.

All the ideas generated went into a multi stage selection process, in which they were filtered and refined down, with $100 million in funding to make the top 10 ideas happen.

As was already reported by Reuters (as well as Business Week and, well, pretty much everywhere) this week…

Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Palmisano (right, with his Second Life avatar) is set to visit Second Life on Tuesday, Nov. 14 following a town hall meeting with some 7,000 employees in China

The 14th is finally upon us so I thought you’d be interested to hear what happened.

The event itself was a ‘townhall’ IBM meeting, held in an IBM location in China, in front of more than 6,000 employees. Sam Palmisano presented in person, but when he started talking about Virtual Worlds and the 3D Internet, he first handed over to Irving (who recently blogged about signing up to Second Life) whose avatar was surrounded by a decent sized bunch of IBMers from across the world.

Later, Sam’s avatar (samatar?) entered as well, and, nimbly assisted by our own Rob Smart, delivered his message both to the IBM China employees gathered there in person as well as those of us in the Second Life portion of the event. Rob was also joined in Beijing by Holly Stewart and Ian Smith, whose tireless work recently resulted in their being invited to attend (read: be camerapersons and generally make it all work) in person. Huge respect to John Tolva for his tireless efforts in making this event happen too. John has written an excellent post on his blog about the logistical challenges of pulling something like this off.

I didn’t get any great screenshots of the Sam avatar (I hope to add some more later), but here’s a quick grab of Sam and Irving presenting together.

So what are the ‘winning’ Innovation Jam ideas Sam announced? They are…

  • Smart Healthcare Payment Systems
  • Simplified Business Engines
  • Real-time Translation Services
  • Intelligent Utility Networks
  • 3D Internet (building a seamless, standards-based 3D Internet)
  • “Digital Me” (personal content service)
  • Branchless Banking for the Masses
  • Integrated Mass Transit Information System
  • Electronic Health Record System
  • “Big Green” Innovations (new business unit)

You can read the list in full, complete with an explanation of each one, in a recent IBM press release.

As with so much of the recent Virtual Worlds related work, this was a lot of fun to be part of. It doesn’t look like much, but it is a bit of a milestone, and will no doubt increase the internal interest in Virtual Worlds still further.

Because of the timezone, the US employees attending virtually were up late (1:30 AM EST) and those of us in the UK were up early (6:30 AM GMT). While the rent-a-crowd were excitedly waiting in Second Life we were listening in to the event over a phone call and getting gossip from those embedded locally over IM. The atmosphere was tense, but also slightly hysterical due to the late night/early morning/what on earth are we doing nature of the event. Total madness of course, but what else would make us all want to get up at crazy times and dress up in suits?

Matt Biddulph’s virtual 3D printer

Matt Biddulph, the brains behind the Second Life Flickr screen and the Last.fm BBC Radio 6 hack (which I mentioned here on Eightbar a while ago), has come up with something even cooler. By way of introduction he points out that…

Many people find the creation of 3D models in SL to be rather tricky. This is because there’s no built-in way to import polygon data as a mesh of 3D coordinates from an external modelling tool. Imagine if there was a factory object that could read a list of coordinates and spit out the results straight into the world, like a virtual 3D printer.

First of all, I love the virtual 3D printer analogy. What Matt seems to propose is automatic creation of primitive objects, such as those used in POV-Ray or Second Life, from arbitrary 3D data. Doing this efficiently is pretty much the unsolved problem in this space at the moment, as nicely summarised by Troy McLuhan in a comment on a 3pointD post earlier this year.

This is something the Prim.Blender project can’t do, requiring you to build with SL-aware prims within Blender instead. My SketchUp hack gets very slightly closer, but in a very crude and limited way (so crude and limited it is still not publicly available, despite having been Slashdotted).

It looks like Matt already has something working. I can’t wait to learn more about this.

Hugo’s Life2Life project in the press

Hugo Dalgleish and Tabatha Hegel, whose Life2Life Amazon web services project has been covered more than once on Eightbar as well as on the Amazon Web Services Blog, achieved yet more more fame yesterday by appearing in Information Week.

Congratulations to Hugo and Tabatha on this writuep. The article is great. Not only does it cover their project, it touches on Second Life and S3 and also contains a rather interesting quote from Amazon’s Web Services Evangelist (and friend of Eightbar) Jeff Barr.

eHampshire 2006

I was keynote speaker for the eHampshire 2006 conference at the Guildhall in Winchester today.

Other speakers and panelists included

  • David Lennan (Chief Executive of Work Wise),
  • Peter Knowles (BT’s teleworking Director),
  • Peter Thomson (Director of the Future Work Forum at Henley Management College),
  • John Rees-Evans (Head of Economic Development at Hampshire County Council),
  • Tony Corbin, (MATISSE Project Manager),
  • Patricia Vaz (South East Regional Director, BT),
  • Prof. Glenn Lyons (University of the West of England)
    and more.

My talk was on (guess what?) Web 2.0 and Virtual Worlds. I hope I managed to evangelise more than I confused and frightened. 🙂

Some highlights…

  • My ‘Metaverse Evangelist’ title seemed to catch everyone’s attention, and nearly every speaker made a reference to it. I think everyone wants to be an evangelist.
  • It was great to meet Peter Thomson. (My favourite quote from him, which will keep me going through any hard times to come, was “evangelists need faith”.) His very interactive presentation highlighted that the conference delegates thought one of the biggest challenges facing managers regarding home-working is trusting their employees. He also pondered why managers seek to monitor and control employees rather than motivate them to want to be at work.
  • All delegates were given a USB memory stick to take the presentations home with them. It’s just as well it’s a 256MB one, as my image-heavy presentation weighs in at 17MB these days.
  • Peter Knowles from BT said explained why teleworking has such a dramatic effect on absenteeism and sick days “I will hide behind voicemail, working on my email, being 70% productive until I’m better again”. I must confess to doing the same sometimes too, though I have misgivings about the sanity of doing it.
  • Jim Tuckwell, Silver Surfer of the year, was there and thanked me afterwards for the presentation. We chatted about Wikipedia. I want to be the silver surfer of the year when I’m 77.

Interesting facts…

  • 95% of Hampshire’s businesses employ less than 5 people.
  • 70% of businesses in Hamphire use the internet, while only 30% use it to sell.
  • eHampshire’s Hotspots Hampshire initiative aims for everyone in Hampshire to be no further away than ten minutes from a wireless access point. Given that I am currently without wireless at home, I am very much in favour of this sort of project.
  • Patricia Vaz from BT pointed out that a desk costs 10,000 (or 15,000 in London) and BT saves 6,500 for each home worker.

I met a lot of intereting people and heard a lot of interesting things, so all in all I had a great day.

More press for IBM in virtual worlds

Thanks to both Andy and Kelly for pointing out the piece in the BBC Technology section today.

Since being grossly mislabelled as a chemist last year, I’ve been looking forward to seeing my photo on the BBC website again and a screenshot of my avatar is close enough.

Both the BBC piece and the story from Reuters’ embedded journalist were outcomes of the busy day I had last week.

After Ian made it to El Reg and Rob was in Wired, the press escalation continues. I’m betting Ian makes the first TV appearance though.

Building 3d in real life with motion capture

Rob Lawrence of dna.co.uk, who used to work with us all here as Creative Director sent me this link to Sketch Furniture by FRONT.
Using 3d motion capture in real space, capturing the sketch and putting it off to a 3d printer.
This is the sort of advance we will start seeing as we all become more accepting of 3d. Which used to be afew skilled designers with high end workstations, but now is open to many more people.
Imagine sculpting Second Life objects in real space, let alone printing them out.
We have lots of people who are now navigating 3d space in SL, and feeling that the mouse and keyboard inetrfaces are restrictive. We have had to adapt to using the keyboards and mice but many more styles of interaction are just around the corner, and commercially viable. You only have to look at the wii controller.
I am sure as the MMO clients get more open source we will see more stylish and human friendly interaction with the building tools and ways to explore the space.
So just as many other things are all reaching maturity at the same time to create this user created, 3d, multi user experience metaverse experience (which used to be VR) its time to start looking at all those haptic devices again.