If you haven’t read them already, you should definitely check out the articles in National Geographic’s Digital Places Special News Series. They cover topics relating to Second Life, to mobile gaming, privacy issues, GeoRSS, and next week, using Google Earth to monitor environmental damage. I think the articles offer a nice introduction to some of the technologies and applications, and the examples are accessible to pretty much any audience.
We haven’t talked about SecondLife for at least a couple of weeks, so here is a handy tool to help those of you who are building in SL. The tool allows you to export SketchUp models into a simplified version that can be placed in SecondLife. I don’t spend a lot of time in world so I haven’t had a reason to try it out, but it looks pretty cool. Let us know where you have built and we will check out your little corner of SL.
When Sue first mentioned Weblo to me last week it seemed kind of cool. Weblo is a site that lets you buy virtual property, but unlike most games, Weblo is selling properties that exist in the real-world (and real-world celebrities, which I find creepy). The problem for me is that there isn’t a user interface that I can find outside of the webpage itseld. I set up an account I went merrily around the site looking for a link to images of places or a map interface, but nothing. I looked into buying a property and saw that YOU have to provide an image of your properties. With the amount of money they had to have put into this thing there are so many things they could have done to go beyond the underwhelming project it appears to be.
Hopefully I will figure it out and it will make sense since the concept itself is great, the implementation seems to be lacking in its first few days at least.
British Airways is now using Google Earth to help book flights. It’s a pretty simple concept – you use Google Earth to zoom to where you want to go and the airline books a ticket to there for you. The only danger I can see is spending all day “flying” around the world trying to see how much it costs to go places…. or just flying around for the fun of it anyways! At least then if you get caught on your office computer playing with Google Earth, you can always just claim you were booking airfare for the *cough**cough* convention/trade show/junket next month for you and Bill in accounting.
I just saw this on 3pointD, and it’s so cool I am definitely going to have to check it out. As you may already know, Jesse, Frank and I are huge Firefly and Serenity fans, and a Second Life resident named Fenix Eldritch (thanks to Rik Riel for pointing that out) has recreated Serenity (the ship that is the center of the movie and series) within the virtual world. The 3pointD post has a direct Second Life link, so log into SL and see for yourself.
Check out this article about how Simon Frasier University is taking advantage of virtual environments and augmented reality in the classroom (and beyond). These technologies are flourishing in some areas, but they are slow to find wide adoption. This probably has a lot to do with the cost of most of the hardware associated. Either way, if you aren’t too familiar with some of the uses of AR, I would point you to the proceedings of the VSMM over the last few years, where examples have been getting ever more exciting. BTW, VSMM is going to be in China in October if you have the time and cash
For those of you who are in the New York City area and interested in what’s going on with the Metaverse Roadmap project, Eyebeam will be hosting a Pre-Release Party today (August 10th) from 6pm to 9pm, with “a series of short presentations and open conversations about the emerging metaverse space and what the Metaverse Roadmap has uncovered so far.”
Some great speakers will be there, including Mark Wallace of 3pointD, Electric Sheep CEO Sibley Verbeck, and even Senior Editor Paul Hemp from the Harvard Business Review. Hopefully they will be posting some of the content after the party. Jesse, Frank, and I have been swamped recently, but we’re hoping to do another episode on the metaverse, and maybe talk to some of the people who are working to make it happen.
This morning, we wandered through the ESRI UC Exhibit Hall (which really makes you think, hey, Segway rentals for touring the exhibit space would be awesome). We did a couple of interviews this morning, and Jesse continued talking to exhibitors while I checked out a couple of sessions. One paper that was right in line with the research we do in our lab was “Kyoto Virtual Time-Space“, which dealt with a huge project to generate a 3D GIS for the city of Kyoto, Japan at different time periods, working towards a 4D or temporal GIS. Using MapCube, a 3D modelling package, the researchers created a great-looking photo realistic reconstruction of portions of Kyoto today, as well as digitizing and extruding over 400,000 building footprints. They have also generated 3D models for a type of merchant housing known as a “machiya” which were an important feature of the landscape before World War II, and recreated Kyoto during the Edo (1603-1867) and Heian (794 -1192) periods. The presentation looked great, and as Jesse and I know from working on smaller-scale 3D GIS projects, it takes a lot of work researching the geography and history of a place before you can even start thinking about a 3D historical landscape reconstruction.
If you are at all interested in 3D virtual reconstructions and immersive technologies, then you have to check out Microsoft Live Labs’ Photosynth. It is too cool, although it’s not available to the public yet, but the demo videos are amazing. Basically, Photosynth “takes a collection of photos of a place or object, analyzes them for similarities, and displays them in a reconstructed 3-Dimensional space.” The application then allows the user to fly through and explore the reconstructed space or look at the photos in relation to each other. The word is that Photosynth will be available for free, at least at first, but no word yet on an exact release date.
You can see a demo video on the Microsoft Live Labs site here.
BBC News has a nice article about MetroQuest, a software application that uses a Sim City-like visual interface to allow users to model how urban planning decisions might affect the city over the next 40 years. MetroQuest has been used by planners in several places, including Manchester, England and Bali in Indonesia. By allowing users to visualize geographic information in ways that more closely represent real-world features, tools like MetroQuest can help increase participation in planning decisions by reducing the level of cartographic expertise required to understand what it is being represented. There’s a whole subdiscipline known as PGIS, or participatory GIS, that looks at ways to include the public in decision-making processes that are supported by GIS, and visualization tools like MetroQuest would fit right into those types of projects.