Category Archives: Virtual Worlds

Eye Gaze Interaction with Virtual Worlds

From NewScientistTech (Web Link).

I’m very much experiencing blogging guilt at the moment. I have a huge list of things to blog about but haven’t had the time recently. Anyway here’s something that caught my eye.

De Montfort University has developed a system which tracks the movemnent of the users eyes and allows them to selct fucntions by gazing at them. The film below shows the software in use during a session on the World of Warcraft (what’s known as a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, or MMORPG). The film below shows the user being able to move his avatar around, exploring the environment and interacting with objects on the screen without having to use any motor skills.

This goes some way to addressing accessibility issues associated with using virtual worlds, such as Second Life, in teaching and learning.

“Enabling someone to express themselves and engage with people in ways that they can’t do in real life – because they are restricted to a wheelchair or a bed – can have a really positive effect on their self-esteem and motivation,” says Donegan.”

Fantastic stuff.


One Avatar, Many Worlds

This will be useful. Personally I don’t like the avatars in Second Life – I’d rather be represented by an abstract concept. *

“DAZ 3D, a company based in Draper, UT, that makes software and models for creating 3-D art, recently announced the MogBox, a program that would allow users to design a high-resolution 3-D character and transport it as an avatar to multiple virtual worlds. MogBox is designed to maintain the same look and feel for the character from one location to another, while adjusting for the graphics capabilities and styles of different virtual worlds.”

Web Link

Integrating photos into 3D worlds

Or as some have put it “Viewfinder: tool for “Flickrizing” Google Earth”
(here) or “A 3-D Viewfinder for a Shoebox of Digital Photos” (here)

Well this is an absolute belter. I would suggest playing the video straight away and then reading the text.

A group of researchers and digital artists at the University of Southern California (USC) has been researching into improving the way photos can be placed in Google Earth (a 3-D world map that allow you to virtually “fly” over the surface of the earth and view satellite and aerial imagery). The Viewfinder project (Web Link) is an alternative to Photosynth (here), which was developed in2006 by Microsoft Live Labs and the University of Washington. Photosynth automates the proper placement of two-dimensional digital photographs in a three-dimensional virtual space, in other words it can take an array of photos taken at a variety of angles and locations, say of the Notre Dame Cathedral, a reconstruct a 3D model of the object in the picture (it’s hard to put into words so here’s a clip on YouTube).

Anyway Viewfinder takes the concept further in that it allows you to manually “pose” photos in Google Earth — to place them in the proper location and at the original angle at which they were taken. The result is that the photos that appear to be perfectly aligned to the underlying 3-D world.

What’s interesting (and the video below shows this) is that you can use old photos as well thus you can see what a particular point on earth looked like at a particular time.

As a former geology student I can see how this would have helped me during the various mapping projects I took part in. This facility would enable me to keep a 3D visualisation of the area to which I could easily return to and find new interpretations. Possible it could even form the end point of my project in which I ‘walk’ the tutor through the area detailing my various observations, judgements etc. Not only that but my peers could add more photos as well. It would then stand as a resource for future students to add their interpretations.

Enough talk. To be honest text cant do it justice:

[youtube]7VffQfDCYns [/youtube]

Educational Uses of Second Life

Fantastic resource listing a variety of educational uses of (and in) Second Life. Lots of screen shots with a vairty of users ranging from school through to HE.

It is also nicely laid out in categories including: * Distance and Flexible Education * Presentations, Panels and Discussions * Training and Skills Development * Self-paced Tutorials * Displays and Exhibits * Immersive Exhibits * Roleplays and Simulations * Data Visualisations and Simulations * Libraries, Art Galleries and Museums * Historical Re-creations and Re-enactments, Living and Immersive Archeology * Computer Programming * Artificial Intelligence Projects * Artificial Life Projects * Multimedia and Games Design * Art and Music Projects * Literature, Composition and Creative Writing * Theatre and Performance Art * Photostories and Photo Scenarios * Machinima * Treasure Hunts and Quests * Virtual Tourism, Cultural Immersion and Cultural Exchange * Language Teaching and Practice, and Language Immersion * Social Science and Anthropological Research * Awareness/Consciousness Raising and Fund Raising * Support and Opportunities for People with Disabilities * Politics, Governance, Civics and Legal Practice * Business, Commerce, Financial Practice and Modelling * Real Estate Practice * Product Design, Prototyping, User-testing and Market Research * Interior Design * Architectural Design and Modelling * Urban Planning and Design * Further Resources

You can spend a long time on this site – I have already!

Interestingly the site is also a wiki (albeit protected)

View site

Move over Second Life?

Another virtual world platform Croquet is starting to gain a lot of attention. The video below showcases a lot of features.

On the whole it has a similar look and feel to that of Second Life which indicates to me at least a consensus of design and possibly cross platform linking?

Anyway the video highlights a number of interesting features such as 3d windows which link to other virtual areas within the system.
Also the live video avatars look interesting. Essentially you can send live video stream to the system and this appears within a small window located on top of your avatar. Good for seeing people’s faces and their reactions. There’s a couple of nice scenes in which you can view slides underneath the water (complete with fishes) and a reference to just in time teaching in terms of rapid development of objects, (it’s not terribly clear on this point and I would have liked a bit more context – although I’m probably just being thick).

I would be interested to know from other Second Life punters as to whether Second Life has these features or they are being planned for implementation.

Or will the LRC be on the move…? 😉


Second Life article links

Well I’ve been spring cleaning all the bookmarked articles I have to read and I have a whole bunch on Second Life. At this rate since I’m concentrating on other areas (Google Earth, Google Maps and Flickr at the moment) I’ll wont get round to reading these articles for quite a while.

So I’ve decided to list them here in case anyone wants to have a scan through them. This is breaking my own blogging cardinal rule in which I always read the articles before linking to them but like I said there’s no time at the moment. They’re a mixed bunch mainly news articles. However they tend to be direct and to the point and their interviewees may offer contacts for potential collaboration. Enjoy.

You Only Live Twice: Making the Most of Second Life in Education Web Link

Is Second Life the right tool for Further and Higher Education? – Information World Review Web Link

Surfing Second Life – Lindsay Oishi, Technology & Learning Web Link

In Second Life, There’s No Fallout – Andy Guess, Inside Higher Ed Web Link

Second Life’s virtual conference rooms might be more useful if they didn’t resemble their real-world counterparts – Erica Naone, Technology Review Web Link

Colleges Bring Learning to a Virtual World – Katie Stuhldreher, The Philadelphia Inquirer Web Link

Drexel opens Second Life campus – Nancy Lan, the Triangle Web Link

Second Life: Do You Need One? – Patricia Deubel, THE Journal Web Link

Review: Voice In Second Life Gets Two Thumbs Up – Mitch Wagner, InformationWeek Web Link

Second Life worth second look: Virtual world will change interactions, lecturer says – Weiwen Ji, Daily Texan Web Link

Second Life Education Workshop at the Second Life Community – Daniel Livingstone eLearn Magazine Web Link

Money Trouble in Second Life Web Link

SL Instructional Videos On YouTube Web Link

Second Life Brand Map (we’re on there!) Web Link

IBM expands virtual world presence – the Age (Australia) Web Link

Colleges Bring Learning to a Virtual World – Katie Stuhldreher, The Philadelphia Inquirer Web Link

I Was a Second Life B-School Student – Francesca Di Meglio, Business Week Web Link

How Second Life Changes Customer Service – Jo Best, BusinessWeek Web Link

These are are very brief reports, could be useful for collaborators.

British Library plans Second Life branch Web Link

Second Life to Be Linked to Web Web Link

A New Competitor to Second Life Web Link

Colleges Are Building in Second Life, but Is Anyone Visiting? Web Link

Anthropologist: Deep Bonds Forged in Second Life Web Link

Second Life Video Made in Italy Stirs Controversy Web Link

Wii and Second Life Replace Real Worker Training Web Link

A Library Makes Its Debut, in Second Life Web Link

Second Lifers May Soon Get a New Way to Talk Web Link

An Avatar at Ball State Explains ‘Second Life’ to Dummies Web Link

A Second Life Whodunit Web Link

A Virtual Campus Tour in Second Life Web Link

The Warcraft MBA

New study examines how online games can teach business skills.
By Ryan Olson

A little news report on the use of MMORPGs in education.

“The Palo Alto, California-based company, which teamed up with IBM and researchers from Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the study, found that logic and visualization skills, as well as creative thinking and collaborative abilities, are widely applicable in both domains.”.

“Nonetheless, the report emphasizes the importance of online environments in facilitating the development of leadership qualities. Games make it easy to collect and see information about a user’s performance and offer multiple ways in which players can communicate and collaborate. And the speed at which gamers play and interact gives them a chance to develop their skills quickly.”.

According to the skills gained through playing MMORPGs are enablers for business success and may even by vital for developing the next generation fo corporate leaders, (more info here).

Watch the World(s)

Posted with permission by Robert Wright.

A Second Life Machinima by Robbie Dringo.

“Ever looked at your favorite painting and wished you could wander inside, to look at it from different perspectives? Spend a single day in one of mine, from early sunrise on a new day, to dusk when lights come on in cosy homes; through a peaceful night, till morning.”.

Shot on location in Second Life with some post-production. Information on how this created can be found here.

Worth playing with the headphones on.


A July 2007 Snapshot of UK Higher and Further Education Developments in Second Life

Okay, so while on the subject of Second Life here’s a snapshot summary of Second Life activity of the UK HE and FE sectors. UH gets a mention courtesy of Andrew Marunchak, but evidently they missed you out Rob? This is via Stephen Downes’s blog post to which the author of the report has added a commenting stating that as it is a snapshot certain elements are missing Stephen critisises the lack of focus on issues and problems during implication) and they may return to the study in more detail.

Report link

Stephen’s blog post

Blackboard spoof Second Life

Blackboard have made a spoof on Second Life meetings – clumsy avatars, people sitting on tables etc. They seem to miss the point. I attended a library meeting in the UH Second Life last month and was very impressed. Although there was a group in attendance you could wander off and mingle throughout.

Here’s the video. It’s not a full on spoof but a plug for one of their events. I wonder, after the recent launch of Sloodle (Moodle and Second Life interfacing), when BlackBoard will be looking into this.