sábado, junho 02, 2007

R & D in Second Life

During the last meeting of the Portuguese community of Art & Technology I've been talking with some colleagues (Carlos Santos one of the persons behind the presence of the University of Aveiro in SL and Paulo Frias responsible for the University of Oporto recent purchase of a terrain, not yet built) developing academic activities in the Second Life (SL) environments. These conversations and previous ones (Leonel Morgado, uses SL in classes and supervises two PhD students using SL at the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro) opened up my appetite for a second try into the world of SL. My first venture inside SL was in 2003, by the 2nd International Conference on Virtual Storytelling. By that time, we had to pay a monthly fee, only to enter the virtual world. I remember using a 7 day free-trial, but the graphical engine and fluidity of the world was not that interesting. I never came back, till now. Differently of my colleagues that look at Second Life with strong interests in the education/social possibilities, my main investigation interests is the interactive entertainment and so the main fields are AI, interactivity, virtual environments...

Now with this renewed interest I begun a search for tools and algorithms, taking into account the nowadays power behind processors and graphical cards, I found some very interesting projects and new developments in the second life community that might open bright possibilities for the future research in the Virtual Environments field.

1) Social Autopoiesis by Adam Brokken

Autonomous agent/character in Second Life, "written in C#, uses libsecondlife and AIMLBot libraries; his current brain is scaled downfor testing purposes... my main goal is to make him a useful addition to Second Life by adding in Torley Linden's marvelously updated Second Life knowledge base, and in general making him Second Life friendly, from teaching building skills, to explaining the many cliques in-world to those users who simply have noclue what they just saw or experienced. As libsecondlife adds more features and becomes more stable, I'd also like to add preprogrammed classes, that will do full step-by-step walk-throughs with new users, teaching them the ways of Second Life."
"I am also working on a method to have the bot remember conversations, adding more animations based on responses, etc. [Whether] he will ever live up to his last name, time will tell." [1]

Social Autopoiesis (direct teleport here)

2) WindLight Technology

A project that aimed at producing "unparalleled visual fidelity and atmospheric representation... within the realm of realtime simulation. Remarkably fast and easy to integrate. Unlike other methods which require specific per-material shaders, WindLight treats all parts of a scene uniformly. Natural terrain, man-made objects, water, clouds, particle effects, and all other elements..."[2].

WindLight is like a magic project that answers to our most profound desires for developing of Dramatic Visual Virtual Environments. This tools achieves great levels of realism and beauty, very far from the regular render engine of SL. Produced by Windward Mark Interactive the excellence of the system called the attention of Linden Lab which acquired it last week.

3) Interesting laboratories to follow, already in SL

AIAI2 - Artificial Intelligence Applications Institute, University of Edinburgh

Laboratory for Advanced Media Production - Australian Film Television and Radio School

nmc | the new media consortium - American Consortium on New Media

Virtual Human Interaction Lab - Stanford University Group

Institute for Creative Technologies - University of Southern California

Interactive Media Lab - Dartmouth Medical School

ReCVEB - Research Center for Virtual Environments and Behavior

Human Interface Technology Lab HITLab - Human Interface Technology Lab, University of Washington

[1] http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2007/01/social_animal.html
[2] http://www.windwardmark.net/products.php?page=windlight
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