Text to voice in Second Life

Christian Westbrook of the Electric Sheep Company has written about a text to speech application that he created. He cites the fact he had missed blogging about his babel fish translator and that Yossarian Seattle had got all the press for his translator HUD 🙂
We had been talking about voice to text but we have been beaten to it in this case.
It will certainly benefit from the soon to come change for http requests per object, assuming thats how it works.
Its well worth a l$25 rating for building skill.

Generating Second Life structures from PowerPoint

It occurred to me that building things in Second Life is quite hard (well it is for me anyway), and even when you buy a “house in a box” which creates you a house when you touch the box, someone still needed to go to the bother of creating all the prims and working out their dimensions and coordinates for you. It would be far easier if you could just draw your basic layout in something nice and easy like Paint or PowerPoint and then click on a button and the basic structure would appear on your Second Life land. I realise that something like PowerPoint will only easily allow a 2D drawing experience, but that’s exactly what I wanted to start with – something close to being as simple as doodling with pen and paper so that I could try different room shapes and layouts quickly and easily without spending more than a few minutes on each one.

I knew that generating Linden Script from a bunch of drawn lines in PowerPoint was not going to be hard. Since I am new to Second Life the main area of complexity for me would be working out the Linden Script that I needed to generate the entire building from a single prim and a single script. I wanted to use a single prim and single script to minize cut and paste activity from the generator to Second Life. I spent some time proving that I could use Linden Script to create multiple instances of a single object and then transform them into whatever I wanted. Once this was proven I used the Linden Script that I had written to become the basis for my code generation template, and drew a simple room with a doorway using four lines in PowerPoint. I generated the Linden Script from PowerPoint, pasted the code into a Second Life object and ran the code. Sure enough, my simple four sided room appeared right in front of me. Excellent.

My first generated room

Now I wanted a tougher structure to generate in order to test my generator. I had a search around and found a copy of the maze layout for Hampton Court garden maze, which certainly met my need for a complex object! I pasted this image into PowerPoint and traced the outline of the maze hedges, which took about 10 minutes. I then clicked to generate the code, and it worked first time, although I should point out that I then proceeded to find a few bugs in my code to convert cartesian coordinates into lengths and angles, and also had to add code to handle the creation of multiple objects when a wall of longer than 10 metres was needed, and code to handle offsets of greater than 10 metres. I also had to add code to split the generated script to ensure that each fragment remained under the 16k script limit. This little lot took a bit longer than 10 minutes…

Anyway, with those wrinkes ironed out I now had a wooden box which contained a single wooden sphere, both of which contain scripts that have been completely generated. The only tedious bit is that you need to manually copy and paste the code from RL to SL, and for a huge object like this maze that is about 10 scripts, although for most normal buildings/rooms a single script will suffice.

Now, when I touch the wooden box I get a 30 second delay followed by some frantic rezzing activity! The final result is a Second Life version of the Hampton Court garden maze generated from a single wooden sphere using code generated from outside Second Life. The structure consists of 144 prims and is approximately 120 metres by 80 metres in size, and yes I did get quite thoroughly lost in it when I tried to walk round it :o)

My maze in Second Life

Now that I have proven the generator technique I hope to try some more practical examples along with a technique for enhancing the amount of data that can be captured in the drawing tool, such as the texture of the walls, whether they are windows or doors etc. I am still very keen to keep the input technique as simple as possible though as I’m really using this as very quick building outline generator, so I’ll probably shy away from full blown 3D drawing tools at this stage.

Second Life and West Wing?

As has been reported in a number of places politicians are starting to come to the metaverse. I will be politically neutral here. However it does bring up something that a few of us were discussing the other day.
We met with Asif Noorani from Epiphany Productions, to discuss how we work in Second Life and show some of our other projetcs off in the Real World. Asif mentioned he was a big fan of the West Wing and one way and another that led us to a mad idea. Many of the meetings in Second Life tend to be people gathering in spaces and staying still.
Now in West Wing much of the interaction happens in fast bursts as the characters walk down the coridoors.
So what if we just replicated a coridoor/conveyor belt for a specific type of meeting. i.e. rather than those with a fixed place, or the ad hoc instant messaging across places. When you want someone’s full attention for 30 seconds to 1 minute then both teleport to the West Wing coridoor.
You are giving one another the ability to have full attention, and indicating that by your presence but you are also indicating that this will be fleeting, yet you still have avatar expressions and non verbal exchanges whilst walking.
It very easy to build in Second Life, but what other new meeting metaphors are there out there?

Chumby Industries

One of our little themes in Emerging Tech for while has been ambient displays, whether they be real or virtual. I really like the look of Chumby Industries. They’re starting with the clock radio as a low cost, low power, wifi connected device. I think a lot will depend on how low cost they can make them, but I think we may see if we can get one for our lab, it’ll keep the rabbit, penguin and orb company.

I also like how everyone has started using “industries” as part of their company name. I think “industries” has become the new web name of choice.

Yet more events in SL

Its about 30 mins until the u2 in sl event. Being at 4pm SLT it’s a bit late, even in a holiday weekend for a uk visit. However I am a bit of fan and like to support things like this. I have done the tourist thing…..
u2 in sl

I have also had a little play at being in the band
band attempt

The crazy thing people may not understand is that their presence and way of arriving at these event puts load on the server

Normal webservers each person connecting puts on an equal amount of load. But here you can arrive and exhibit your personality with bling and prims attached to you that add processing load to the server.

UPDATE: It was a great event, they kept it initmate to 70 people, so the lag was minimal. The crowd certainly got into it. Another great event

Yossarian Seattle’s wedding present

Yossarian Seattle one of eightbar’s prominent builders and scripters will be off the grid for a few weeks as he is getting married today. In Real Life I might add.
Over at new world notes there is a great article about Yossarian’s language HUD on New World Notes. This recognition is a great wedding present for him, and I am sure Second Life will feature in his best mans speech.
Whilst very active on Hursley private Island Yossarian has gone out and explored and worked with the rest of Second Life too.
As a keen photgrapher and flickr user has has created a very nice gallery located next to the superb newbie centre of New Citizens Inc at Kuula. This is landmark I send everyone starting to get to grip with Second Life as they join eightbar.
Anyway, congratulations for Mr & Mrs Seattle to be.
Yossarians Gallery
Picturesa at the gallery
pictures at the gallery

New Citizens Inc

Here Be Dragons

For those of us in Hursley who are old fashioned enough to still have TVs, a must watch has always been, Dragons Den. People with ideas or businesses have to present to a set of investors with the hope that they will pay for a stake in their company. It can often seem very similar to the sort of thing we have to do here, presenting emerging technology to customers, or trying to convince our IP attorneys about a patent disclosure.

One of the businesses yesterday was doing online downloads, but with the songs dynamically mixing together when transitioning from one to the other. He did a great job of explaining the idea, won over the investors and got the funding. A much better job than I did several years ago trying to patent an idea for desynchronising music to make it feel more live. The idea was that you’d download the song, but it’d never sound exactly the same twice. So maybe the title, “Britney Spears In Your Living Room” didn’t help with some of the more traditional reviewers. Luckily, a great mentor in the form of an IBM master inventor wouldn’t let them win and it did at least get published (hit guest user and then go the url again – great i know). Next week, my brilliant idea for centripetal submarines…

Hursley Research – ITA

The Hursley lab is playing a major part in a large research project, known as ITA. ITA, is a joint US and UK programme of fundamental research into network centric systems. It’s lead by IBM, but with a number of industrial and academic partners (Boeing, LogiaCMG, Honeywell, UCLA, Cambridge, Columbia etc. – there’s a full partner list here).

In the UK, the project is going to be run out of the Emerging Tech group, which means a few of us on eightbar are likely to be involved. There are some interesting themes around collaboration and social networking as applied to military environments, which we’re likely to be responsible for. Anyway, we’re off to New York in September to get started, so I’ll be able to write more about what we’re actually going to be working on then.

Cool eightbar builds

Some more people have joined eightbar in Second Life and a diverse set of skills has emerged.
Judge Hocho showed me his design skills in the clothing department yesterday. He has made some great Eightbar tshirts and hats.

Meanwhile a newer resident has dived into building some clever things too.
Turner Boehm has a fantastic Tardis that appears and dissapears with sound effects. Now I know Turner is a boffin, and some of the recent conversations indicate he has some exciting things on the horizon.

As per usual all the shots can be seen on snapzillaI just need to get around to tagging them !