Hursley 3D Printing Expo

D’oh, looks like I missed a swarm of 3d printers in Hursley recently! I wonder if anyone has printed a model of the house/site yet.

I’m still looking for even a vaguely plausible excuse to splash out on a 3d printer, but printing models or new 3d printers still isn’t quite enough to justify the money (or space these days)!

Lecturing MBA’s at Babson in Second Life

Last night I was invited to speak to a very diverse class of MBA students and entrepreneurs at Babson as a guest (Thankyou Linda for the invite). The conversation of course happened in Second Life, and also happened to be around midnight my time. That in itself is almost routine now, though for a change I was using voice and watching for text questions. However what was great was that the subject was not the metaverse itself, though I did throw in some futures like 3d printing and augmented reality. No the subject was the story of eightbar, the steps to get to the point we are at, how despite various things stacked against many of us we just carried on and did the right thing.
***UPDATE @abelniak who was at the meeting twittered that he had this post on his perspective as an member of the class. Once again the power of social media and willingness to share and build is in action.
Also some honest statements about the risk of being a pioneer, and the fear that self organized group can generate in traditional control structures.
I really enjoyed talking to the group, and there were some great questions from some clever minds.
We discussed leadership in particular, and what differs or is the same in virtual worlds. My general answer is a good leader will adapt, those true leaders already in traditional places of power have the emotional skills to lead and inspire anywhere. However the new connected world and removal of local as barrier unleashes the abilities in anyone who wants to lead.
Babson MBA lecture
Anyway, a huge thanks to everyone who came along, thankyou for listening, and following up. It became clear to me there is a huge value in sharing this story now, its constantly evolving for me, epredator, eightbar, metaverses, IBM. At any point in time it has things to learn from and things to share.

Anarkik eightbar

Ann Marie Shillito from Anarkik 3D visited the eightbar crowd in Hursley (thanks to epred for inviting a bunch of us hangers-on along!).

Anarkik are involved with haptic input devices and have developed some really nice software which enables users to interact with virtual worlds and 3D modelling tools using a consumer-priced haptic controller which can be connected to a PC via USB.

The demo blew us away. First we had a look at how the controller could be used to drive an avatar in a virtual world (in this case, OpenSim). It’s a considerably more natural way to navigate than the keyboard and mouse setup that is provided with most 3D worlds and should lead to a lot more accessibility into these environments. The part that really impressed us was the capability of driving a CAD-like tool called Cre8 – a free download from Anarkik, for people who have the controller – to easily create three-dimensional objects by physical manipulation… both inside and out. I remember hacking around with an old 3D package called Euclid on my RISC OS machine back in the early 90s and it was a nightmare – this was sheer joy. Watch the video to see various people playing around with the haptic controller ๐Ÿ™‚

Just to explain what is going on in the video, as it may not be entirely clear! The demos use a Novint Falcon gaming controller. To quote Anarkik, it is “like a small grounded ‘robot’ and provides the ‘force feedback’ that gives the uncanny sense of touching a virtual object. This device replaces the mouse and also provides more natural and coherent movement in 3 dimensions.” At the start, several of us have a go with the controller to drive an avatar around an OpenSim island running on the local machine, using Anarkik’s software. Around the middle of the video, we switch to using the Cre8 tool to do some simple modelling. In particular, we change the surface hardness of a sphere (where it becomes more or less soft to the touch); and then go inside the sphere and extrude the shape by pulling the controller around. Finally, there’s a brief look at some fabricated items modelled using the same software.

Anarkik also have a community called Anarkik Angels where they are looking for supporters to help crowdsource and develop the project.

[the one minor disappointment for me personally was the current lack of Mac OS X support – Windows-only at the moment – and the websites aren’t terribly Mac-friendly either. Guess it’s time to buy a Windows box just for this stuff, it’s awesome!]

All of this haptic craziness hit a lot of our interest areas – 3d printing, new ways of interacting with technology, the application of these kinds of controls to education, manufacturing, science, craft, modelling… we had some very exciting and interesting discussions and I think several of us are looking forward to playing with this technology a lot more in the future. There are a bunch of additional videos on the Anarkik website.

Just thinking out loud – Metaverse snapshot

I moved offices today and having a bright new whiteboard I could not leave it clean for long.
Its not really a mindmap, just some association of thoughts and bits of linkages. I am sure it will alter, but right now this is what was in my head in a mad flurry. The underlying red part is really the substrate of the whole thing. Just my personal thoughts linked to some of the things I have seen and been involved with one way and another.

Thoughts on the metaverse
Note: edited to show smaller version of the board as it was cropping the right hand important side for those that did not click through to flickr. 3d printing FTW and high value professional social networks one there too !

Yes more Shapeways 3d printing/rapid fabrication

Many of you may still not have seen just how amazing the creations that can be got from rapid fabrication devices are. Lots of fabricaneurs have been busy placing designs on a service called shapeways (VC funded by phillips.
People have been making and sharing all sorts of things, this trackball assembly (more here in how it works )

They have also of course been exploring the entertainment side of things. Such as this killer flower character

With an increasing number of people making devices, small devices for a smartplanet, some interesting cases for the various sensors, monitors etc can be created using this technique. Low cost low volume is also very handy in a downturn for prototypes.

Virtual Worlds and London 2012 Olympics

After all the intial work at Wimbledon on sports events in virtual worlds I was often asked about the London 2012 Olympics and what it migh mean for them. I wrote a document with some ideas, almost a little dated now but it was November 2006.
After a recent event explaining all things metaverse I was prompted by a note (thankyou J) asking about the implications and potential for 2012 to try and get some more traction on this.
There are lots of people in companies on loan to 2012, but there is also still a good few years to go development wise. So, to capture our thoughts as a community I just set up a PBWiki.
It is here as an extended open to anyone eightbar project. If you want to come and share some ideas about how we can get people to represent sports events in a richer way, and if it does not cuase you any commercial conflicts and you want to do the right thing, then please come and join in. We have 4 years ๐Ÿ˜‰
So, virtual world, mirror world, augmented reality, gaming, social media, crowd content creation, 3d printing etc, all up for discussing. (yes this really should have been a superstruct type project, but lets try and grab some people into this who dont normally do social media too ;))
* also if I could figure out how the london 2012 website let me blend with it, trackback, or hook in anyway I would !

Inspired by the social entrepreneurs – 3d Printing for the world

I have just spent 2 days fully immersed in the chain reaction event in London. At this very vibrant event I was expecting to spend most of my time explaining to people how we use the web and virtual worlds to communicate, to get things done, to power change in business. I certainly did get to do that, but I also got to meet and talk with a whole host of people from very varied backgrounds who had fantastic stories and goals.
Chain Reaction
Many of the people at the event were social entrepreneurs. People who work for change in the commnuity and an better world, not merely profit. In fact seldom for profit.
There was of course a balance as there were some very important business leaders at the event and the prime minister at one point. They spoke of generating wealth, of running successful businesses but then setting up foundations and mentoring schemes. There were also a large set of the attendees(contributors) who were of a much younger demographic. Young people who were willing to hear about how they can make a difference, or more often those that already were just getting on with it.
One of the huge messages, and the biggest take aways from this was that you do not have to wait to get started doing anything. As Dr Victoria Hale (founder of One World Health the not for profit pharmacutical company) said, just when is it that you will have enough money, resources, people or power to do what you feel you need to do to change the world for the better? You just have to start.
There was a meta layer to the event in talking with production team called in to help with the social media reporting. All very experienced web 2.0 people. So we all had a lot in common and had some breakout sessions on where this is all going, and what the best way to produce events, gather whats happening and distribute it.
Finally the chain reaction is about the links people have made sparking ongoing work. The third sector (a very strange name but its a tribal label) is there to make a difference to the world. I wrote a commitment to be placed on the wall, one of many that were added that I want to get the technology of 3d printing, local manufacture to be distributed and practical around the world. Being able to manufacture designs from 3d data held elswhere in the world could allow local communites to manufacture the things they need from simpler raw materials. Imagine being able to fix a broken water pump, or create new water carrying vessels without the need to have products shipped to remote, deprived areas. Think one laptop per child, people finding the parts they need online or co-desiging them in a virtual world with remote engineering experts and add local 3d printing manufacturing abilities, making the virtual designs real to fix any problem. Now that can change the world, and I can help make that happen.

From Little Big Planet to a Smart Planet

As you know we don’t usually do press releases or “official” stuff here on eightbar, but the very recent words from Sam Palmisano around the drive for a Smart Planet do fit in rather well with what we have been doing over the past years.
Firstly Smart Planet is not directly named after our very own Rob Smart, but just as Second Life surnames act to aid serendipity we should not ignore that link.
Secondly, this is not really related to Little Big Planet as such, but there are parallels that can be drawn.
However the main drive behind the Smart Planet is around these three themes.

First, our world is becoming instrumented
I often talk about things being instrumented, but this fits in with the approach we took to Wimbledon in SL(first blogged in 2006), an instrumented world re-envisioned and experienced. It fits with Andy SC and DCJ’s work with sensors, actuators, current cost meters etc. It was the core of my business process management pitch at VW London. If we have the data, openspimes, facts, figures, messages then we can do a whole lot with it.

Second, our world is becoming interconnected
Well…. if you are reading this blog you know this is the case. This is not just about the data but about the people. Web2.0 and virtual worlds have connected us all in incredible ways, formed new tribes of interest, brought eightbar into existence. Being able to create and share across company and cultural boundaries, breaking geography, all fit into this from what I can see. This is where Little Big Planet fits too, even Sony dipping their toe into the great creative power of user created content.

Third, all things are becoming intelligent
This is the extra leap, but we can apply compute power to vast amounts of data as a service. We can also apply human power, the wisdom of crowds. Things are not isolated units of processing. We can gather insight and points to innovate on with more simulations and visualizations at a global level.

So bring on augmented reality, transparent sharing across interested groups, remote rich interaction between people and information at distance and new ways to determine what is happening in the real world.

So to finally quote Sam Palmisano “But I think one thing is clear: The world will continue to become smaller, flatterโ€ฆ and smarter. We are moving into the age of the globally integrated and intelligent economy, society and planet. The question is, what will we do with that?”

Tell me that does not fit in with all the drivers of virtual worlds that we and our fellow tribe members inside and outside of eightbar have been pushing? – Role play to protect the future

Ok, so I only ever seem to be writing about Virtual Worlds. This is something related, yet different but that has some intriguing elements.
Superstruct is an Alternate Reality futurology game being acted out in the next few weeks across many touch points that we are familiar with in the internet. (props to @csven for reminding me to follow up on my registration for this)
This initial video shows the basic premise for the problem that needs to be solved. I guess in these times of doom and gloom facing extinction as a race might not add to the mood, but the purpose of this exploration is to write the story of 2019. Roleplaying as yourself, but in the future. An interesting dynamic. as very often my head is off in that sort of space it makes sense to join in.

Anyway, see what you think. As with all ARG’s its a thing to dip into and out of and run along side your regular flow of web activity.
As the quote goes “Thinking is one of the hardest things to do, which is why so few people seem to do it”

Unconferencing in the Hospital for VWF

Rob and I travelled up to London today to take part in the last minute, but very worthwhile, unconference for the Virtual Worlds Forum. It was held at the Hospital club in London.
The venue was very busy and buzzing with people all willing to share, network and present.
Unconferences are probably very scary to many people. The agenda and direction forms dynamically, based on what the visitors want to cover. Generally any of these are attended by the interested and the dynamic, not the apathetic.
This one worked very well. We had a matrix on the wall, done with masking tape and added postit notes for the agenda.
I added top left session 1 a discussion of 3d printers and the future of manufacturing. Whilst a small attended session the important thing was the attendees really wanted to discuss this.
Ann Marie from Anarkik3d was at the session and Mark Simpkins. Hi to you guys. Mark had a clear interest and researched background (and knows Roo ). Ann Marie designs jewelry and works with haptics and virtual environments. Check out the videos on the Anarkik3d website its very exciting work.
Rob did a session on intraworld messaging with pub/sub (MQTT) opensim and unity and got a major power gathering including Linden Lab and of course Adam Frisby a driving force in Opensim from Deepthink(note correction apologies Adam ๐Ÿ™‚ ) who was wearing a t-shirt.
Unity3d were major sponsors of the event and we had a great demo and chat with those guys as Rob is a Unity3d guru now.
The other conversations were varied and all interesting, including a rather unusual lunch with Christian Renaud, Dave Taylor, Bobby Clay, Jeff Barr and Dave Taylor in a Souk somewhere near covent garden.
So well done one and all and I personally really found ths useful and I know that I met some new people and re-enforced some other friendships and working relationships. That, after all, is the point.