The nicest place in Second Life

I toured around last night, whilst trying to remove the constant images in my head of tennis courts. I arrived at spaceport alpha. I have to say it is one of the best builds I have seen. It is a representation and history of space travel. I have visited kenneddy space centre in RL. This place has way more tings to look at :-). Accurate to scale builds of many types of rockets, shuttles etc. It also has some great museum articles and they also have a website. The whole place looked planned and thought about, had a key theme and a great ambience.
I had a good chat with Kat Lemiuex one of the museum staff/group that build and runs the place.
It was nice ot have that interaction too. Thanks Kat.
Well worth a visit by anyone interested in the educational aspects of SL and/or in anyway interested in space.

spaceport alpha

My snapzilla set of pictures from my visit are here that includes the SLURL

Now back to the tennis and

Wimbledon in Second Life

IBM, amongst other things, runs the official Wimbledon website during the event. This has lots of exciting well designed tennis information, real time scores and we deal with a large volume of traffic. Most years I am onsite for a period of time, helping explain how we bring innovation to our customer as part of a large cross IBM team. In the lead up to the event, and with what I know about the data we have, I decided to take on a mini proof of concept to bring Wimbledon to Second Life.

The first point is that this is a proof of concept. The build is designed to show the various ideas rather than be a 1:1 representation of the actual place. That’s very possible, but would take more days to build.
Secondly, lots of people could attend, the shots show only one avatar.

The example security gate is there to show you can detect things about peoples avatars in this case it shows the name and if they are wearng anything that contains code.

The first item on the tour is the RSS weather feed globe. It updates now every hour from a weather service, but has a manual overide for some other cities to prove its not all smoke and virtual mirrors

Next is the highlight. The real world tracking data for actual tennis matches. We get a feed for the normal web scoreboard and the point tracker. Here we plot the ball in 3d space and can rotate around it for various angles. The net is actually in control, if it gets told another url to use it plays another rally. This can be done manually, by talking to it, or by another control box that cycles through the various games.
We could put players on this, with the extra data we have on which shot has been played and knowing when the ball changes direction, but I was working to a timeframe.

As you can see you can control the camera even when your avatar is sitting enjoying the game

This shows several concepts. The main one is the 2 spheres, these are ambient devices that change size depending on who is winning the match, it shows the ambient device concept.
The picture on the right is of the IBM special keyboard used to record the matches, with keys for forehand smash, volley etc.

This shows one of the special products at work. The flying wimbledon towel. When anyone clicks the towel it act like a normal banner ad and directs them to the real wimbledon shop for the real towel. This banner add though can be flown as a vehicle. So I can fly around, advertising in places without leaving the ad lying around on private property. Avatar based marketing.

These images show a mixture of photo panels of things at Wimbledon and 3d objects such as the park benches. Just to add a bit of character. The go away rain sign is a legacy of many championships.

This is the most recent addition. advert watching posts. Stand in front of each of the screens and a streaming video of the IBM adverts with people from the AELTC and the BBC talking about Wimbledon, IBM and innovation

Whilst the trigger for the video is standing in front of a particular one (and hitting the movie play button in SL) the video will play on all the screens at once. It does not have to do this, I just liked the effect.

This is sort of Henman hill. Again to show a hint and nod to the real place. The video wall in this case is showing one of last years flash scoreboards, to show the analogy with the full size court and the previous web incarnations for tracking the ball.

Again this is a flavour of mixing 2d pictures with 3d objects the line of benches coming out of the space, giving depth.

More example pictures, with fencing and plants to show the potential

These pictures show an object raining multiple tennis balls down. No real reason its just fun, It actually the same code as the full court but the balls are physical, and hence fall rather than the one on the court demo that hang around, to help show the path of the ball.

The Fred Perry statue can be touched, and it will get the RSS feed from

The chat history window shows us what Fred said, and formats its nicely.

Further up in the air, to use the small real estate, is a hovering Wimbledon shop.

The products in the shop include a Tshirt, using the actual tshirt as source to build a SL Tshirt that can be worn (see last photo). This shows the flow of money and product placement.

We also have some pose balls. These allow us to put an avatar in a pose when they are attached to it. In this case two backdrops with different poses. People then are able to take snapshots of them ‘in action’ like in new citizens plaza, but tennis branded.

The avatar I am wearing is available for sale from a poster of the avatar. Again shows the flow of money and the potential to look like real people.

We have a pagoda in the sky, its also a video wall showing one of the IBM vignette adverts.

So you can fly in and be immersed in the video.

And there we have it. Back to a normal(ish) look, but wearing my Wimbledon 06 tshirt.
If I leave the private Hursley island everyone will be able to see this shirt

We could do a whole lot more with the browser as a texture gecko engine, but for now the httprequest has made much of this much easier
For more on what IBM does at Wimbledon it really is a fantastic effort and a great partnership.
That is just the start of IBMers in the Metaverse.

U2 in SL, as it happens

The late night concert at the moment is “U2 in SL” They have real avatars with the real looks and the band are perfoming to a real U2 set of tracks. By enforcing a no prims(attachments) policy the perfomance of this island is manageing to hold 101 people. Which is very impressive.
The PA with the rapper Chamillionaire was good this evening, it was the real artist, talking and answering questions. However, a gig would have been better, except for his die hard fans.
U2 are a different league, albeit a tribute band. Seeing The Edge and Bono wander around the extended stage, posing and dancing in context with the music, surrounded by a mass of fans is great. It will only get better as the island servers and software get faster.
Of course a great benefit of it being virtual is that you dont have to be stuck at the back. Your avatar may well be behind someone tall, but you can move the camera yourself to get a great view.
Well done to Nyna Slate and all the crew.

Costume changes are also quicker than in real life

Live and waiting for the gig

We are all starting to gather for the Universal gig for Chamillionaire. Its all very exciting, both technically and the fact it feel like a gig is about to start.

Mickey Curtis of Play.Fm is say right behind me, Nyna Slate who I met last night ( a very long term resident is also in the house, and Owner232 who last night was a new resident and has now got the hang of it all.

More on U2 in SL and events

Having just mentioned U2 in SL I decided to check out the venue, before it all kicks off tomorrow.
You will see from the pics that U2 In SL is a virtual tribute band. The dragon island the venue is on has lots of posters for things relating to making povery history, which is warming to see.
Aswell as the U2 in SL area playing keyboard on stage I also moved up the hill to play on some decks too.
So how is all this relevant? Well with the work I have been doing on wimbledon to see the sort of events we could build in SL, it is good to see that many of the metaphors that have been built in these other events are the same as the ones I have been trying to explore. The different ways you can interact, and be part of something is key to why SL is so engaging and important.

Universal Rapper In SL and U2 as well

Chamillionaire has some representation in Second Life. The Universal Motown island (just search in SL to save me doing the SLURL, you cant miss it) has a soundstage gig area. Cham is apparently going to be doing a personal/virtual appearance at a gig tommorrow.

Rather cleverly there is a ticketing system, you go to the ticket office and answer a question about the real video.

Dire Lobo from InWorld studios was around when I popped in. You will notice I like to go to the places when they are empty before the event and see whats going on. It is interesting to feel the empty and then full atmosphere of a place.

Anyway they are doing lots of nice things, they have VIP booths, a stadium/set that I got to hang around on. They also have a light mixing desk so the event can be controlled in world. There are tshirts for sale and lots and lots of links to Amazon, ITunes etc to buy the album. Not to mention its streaming over the sim all the time too.

Another band, Hinder, is also represented in the area but the the primary event is tomorrows PA.

It will be good to see any machinima footage that comes out of this, and how the gig works. Now I just need to be able to answer that question. I have not seen the video for the song I was asked about. Primarily, and ironically because I always seem to be on SL or blogging about it!

Nyna Slate a long term resident of SL turned up, who works on some other very cool things, so I got to find out about U2 in SL.

More to follow….

Third Birthday Second Life Live Carnival

Last night Roo and I managed to both attend a carnival procession in Second Life. This was a celebration with floats (user created obviously) that drove past all the onlooking avatars. Aside from being very entertaining, creative and generally a good laugh, where else would you get a carnival to celebrate the birthday of an operating system/website?

It had many floats by many well known people in the metaverse. However one that got a lot of attention and a fair few photos was the Linden World float. It was a very particpatory event as the guys on the floats gave shouts out to the crowd, and vice versa. So Everyone felt noticed and involved.

It was also quite entertainng how some of the floats got stuck, just like in real life, and the lead float, a gient cake, disappeared into the distance. Well done all though, it was a blast.


Amazonians push the envelope

3pointD are reporting on the recent news from Supernova 2006 about pioneering ‘Amazonians’. Some Second Life users, who also happen to be Amazon employees, are exploring the potential of “a bridge between Amazon Web services and Second Life so you can go into Second Life and actually try things on there and buy them”. Interesting news indeed.

I have been wondering for a while which existing major online brand will be the first to make the move from e-business to v-business. American Apparel recently announced its virtual store, but if the Amazonians can get their company’s support might Amazon be the first company to really start the blur the boundaries between the real, the online and the virtual marketplace?

The fact that it’s “not being done under the auspices of the company” is not necessarily a bad sign either. The need for early-adopter employees to try some things out before their employer really ‘gets’ something (or can feels it can support it) is something most bleeding edge types can probably relate to.

A tool for browsing and choosing items to be sent to your home in meatspace would be the next baby step for online shopping. At its most basic, using a virtual world to act as a store and shopping cart for existing real life goods will be a refreshing change from current online shopping models, and provides some pretty interesting possibilities for a richer user experience too. In the same way that some booksellers already offer a PDF download while the dead tree is in the post, I wonder how long before Cafepress (or one of their competitors) offers avatarwear as an option for its user-designed products. Here’s my design. I need that on a T-shirt, a cap, oh and something off-the-shoulder for my avatar while I’m waiting.

Gradually, the metaverse matures.

My latest Second Life toy – a player

I’ve been a fan of for a while, and a really big fan ever since I noticed that Matt Biddulph, while he still worked at the BBC, pulled a very nice hack to update his ‘sekrit’ user every time Radio 6 plays a song.

Anyone following Eightbar in the last few months can’t have failed to notice that we’re getting pretty interested in virtual worlds and the metaverse. Second Life is not the only virtual world out there, but it’s a popular one. Since it makes it fairly easy to build things, and now lets you make HTTP requests from within scripted objects, it’s a pretty handy environment for knocking up 3D artifacts which render web data in slightly more interesting ways than, say, the average RSS reader.

Roo\'s player on Second Life

In between enjoying Second Life’s third birthday celebrations, I created this ugly beast. My feed watcher (despite its similarity to a squashed fly – those are supposed to remind you of speakers rather then eyes) displays the title and artist of the last song I listened to. Eventually it might provide a more complete interface to show more information about my listening habits, but for now I’m happy to keep it simple.