Friday, November 28, 2008
A quick death for Google's short-lived lively. After much flurry around its July launch of Lively as a "20% completed" PC-only 3D social arena technology, Google has now announced that it will end the service in December. Part of the problem may have been that porn had quickly made its way in to environments that were designed to provide a younger demographic with a circa 1996 Alpha World-like social chat experience. Looks like those in need of virtual sex will need to be satisfied with Second Life's offerings (see here for an opinion). Google says "It has been a tough decision, but we want to ensure that we prioritize our resources and focus more on our core search, ads and apps business." Okay, so I guess that porn is not a business they want to be in? What I find striking here is that a company with as much intellectual and financial capital as Google could not muster anything more than poorly implemented platform-constrained retread of technologies that have been around for the past twelve years. The lessons here are that money without vision is useless and that unrestricted public spaces tend to attract a certain type of public in both the real and virtual worlds.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Here is a nice write-up about Phua Khai Fong's experience on the Google’s Summer of Code (SoC) project that involved integrating freeCAD, a 3D CAD application with motion simulation in Croquet. Phua (on the left) is now working to integrate FreeCAD functionality into the basic Cobalt UI.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Rajeev Lochan has just been successful in getting VNC to work within a shared Cobalt space! VNC is a graphical desktop sharing system which uses the RFB protocol to remotely control another computer. This is a big breakthrough for our open project. It means that a Cobalt-based VNC client can connect to a VNC server on any other operating system. Cobalt users will soon be able to view and interact with remote applications (including full featured web browsers) or even collaboratively access remote desktops within the Cobalt application. Because the VNC protocol can use a lot of bandwidth, we still have some optimization to deal with - but this progress is great to see. Thank you Rajeev!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Virtual worlds make it possible for architecture to be constantly changed and modified in ways that are not possible/practical in the real world. With the advent of collaborative virtual world technologies, we now have a way for us to shape our buildings as we use them. In this video, Jon Brouchoud of The Arch blog discusses wikitecture in virtual worlds using Second Life as an example. Wikitecture in virtual spaces has the potential to liberate architects as well as the users of virtual world architectures from the design-then build-then hope that it works paradigm.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Rich White at the Greenbush Labs has posted a video of the collaborative virtual museum that he was able to create in only 30 minutes using Cobalt and free content derived from Google's 3D warehouse. Enabling such rapid creation of free multi-user virtual spaces is exactly what the Cobalt project is seeking to support on a broad scale. What kind of world would you like to create?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Here is the first of several videos from Rich White at the Southeast Kansas Educational Resources Center who recently completed a formal pilot/focus group using Edusim (a stripped down Cobalt) at the Greenbush Labs. The video shows 6th graders collaboratively building an "Eco City World", a "Rockets & Space World" and a "Cells, Organs, and Anatomy World". In this first focus group, the students were asked to create .obj files for import into Cobalt and then to begin using Cobalt navigation, connection tools, and TPainter a away of adding additional content to their worlds.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Say hello to Emily. She's a pretty effective spokesperson for Image Metrics' high-quality facial animation software. Unlike with garden variety mocap, facial rig animation can be developed with no need for markers or special cameras. Instead, the Image Metrics technology uses proprietary software to analyze video and develop data that can then be used to drive any facial rig. The analysis is then retargeted to a CG facial model. The end result is an animation that is incredibly compelling.
This type of technology gives us a glimpse at where we may be going with regard to far more compelling animated avatars than we currently have within today's virtual worlds. Imagine CG Emily's face being superimposed on an avatar frame based on real-time webcam video analysis. Of course, for that to happen, we will need much faster video-camera enabled machines than we have at present. Lets hope that open software and Moore's law will get us there within the next several years.....
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Microsoft’s chief software architect Ray Ozzie recently announced that the company will be offering internet-scale cloud services platform hosted in Microsoft data centers. The platform is called Azure and will run Windows servers and the .Net framework in the cloud as a hosted, pay-as-you go service. It'll be part of what they're calling Live Services, and it'll run Live apps, .Net apps, SQL server, Sharepoint servers, and Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM. With these developments, it appears that Microsoft is trying to move in the direction of Amazon’s Web Services and cloud computing initiatives from other enterprise IT players, including everyone from IBM to RackSpace. It may also be that they are moving away from the OS-on-a-box model in favor of cloud services. The writing is on the wall for Microsoft. They need to innovate quickly. Vista is not what they thought it would be. Instead, its turning out to be a good reason for people and companies to switch to the MacOS. If Microsoft gets any traction with cloud services on a broad market basis, then we may be increasing the world's dependency on ubiquitous network connectivities (and active subscriptions) as a prerequisite for even the most basic of interactions with computers and other devices. Such a scenario has its dangers since users of such services will need to have 'network' available to do anything. I'm not sure that such a scenario would be in most people's best interest.