In January 2007 I first joined Second Life, I looked around for a bit, didn’t see anything I liked, didn’t like what I saw and left after a few days.
In February 2009 I decided to run Second Life again, simply to test the ability of my then new computer.
And minutes before I decided that Second Life was not for me and would leave for ever (again) I found the ‘search’ option, tried a few search terms that appealed to me and found the first sim I actually liked; a surreal vintage bar called ‘Flashmans’.
There I suddenly realised that I everything I saw was made by users just like me and that maybe I could create something myself.
And I was doomed lost hooked.
The rest is, as they call it, history.
Within weeks I started working on The 1920s Berlin Project and on May the 30th 2009 I…
Ever thought about meeting a SL avatar face to face in your RL living room?
Or see your SL house appear in front of you on the drive outside your RL home?
Or perhaps work on a SL dress in your RL workshop?
Thanks to Augmented Reality this is now becoming a possibility and it is only the beginning.
James Reichert has been working with Virtual and Augmented reality for years and early on experimented with Kinect, 3D tv and even building his own virtual surroundings for presentations. During his research he discovered Second Life, joined as Illiastra Ascendent, explored this virtual world, created something, sold something and, like the rest of us, was doomed hooked.
Recently James started experimenting with the Microsoft Hololens in combination with Second Life and his very first tests are already very promising and exciting.
Look for instance at this video he made, showing a SL-like avatar with a dress he designed.
He is looking at her through the Hololens, an Augmented Reality device that does not only show you a virtual object in reality but it also manages to lock it in a specific location so it stays there while you move around.
Right now you can see the avatar or furniture or whatever object you’ve created, as if it is with you in your real life, you can walk around it, see it from all angles.
But it won’t be long till you can do more than just watch, can you imagine actually building something virtual in real life?
Standing in front of an avatar wearing your dress that you then lengthen, shorten and re-texture, right there and then. But even if you’re not a creator, wouldn’t it just be fun to see your own avatar standing in your RL room? Or even have another avatar visiting you in RL and chatting with you…
And on another level, a building James made in ‘Chief Architect’, which is not that different from what we’re used to in Second Life, is, lets call it ‘rezzed’ in a parking lot. Allowing us to look around it but even go inside and check out the details.
As someone who has created lots of buildings in Second Life, I’d love to walk around them in VR and AR, and looking at the future again, imagine being able to actually build this way or at least change the wallpaper while walking around your parking lot.
I can’t wait.
These modern HMDs aren’t VR, they are merely the conduits– the summoning circles– through which our avatars will finally be unleashed upon the waking world. The neo-VR industry built them thinking it would get them into the metaverse… they never considered what would come out.
James’ bumper sticker
James will be a guest on the Draxfiles Radio Hour soon and we’ll talk more about his experiments and the future possibilities of this technology.
During his talk he showed a video about Sansar and a few screenshots were shared online before, also on my blog here.
Just now, minutes ago, Collision uploaded a video of Ebbe’s contribution.
It doesn’t actually show Ebbe talking but the images he used in his presentation.
And of course we’re all sad we can’t see Ebbe and judge whatever he was wearing (anything but a vintage 3 piece suit is acceptable) it is also quite nice because it means we get to see the Sansar video in great detail, in stead of just on a screen behind Ebbe.
The speech itself is good but not much is said that we didn’t know yet.
In short he talks about how big VR is going to be and that users will not just be consumers but also participants.
He explains that Linden Lab has a lot of experience and calls Second Life the biggest virtual world to date.
I am not sure if it is if you’d also count other computer generated worlds we know from some games, but I wouldn’t be surprised and I am of course sure that it is the oldest and biggest user generated online virtual world.
Either way, you can’t remind people too often of this as it seems that the wheel keeps being reinvented.
For instance, just the other day I stumbled upon something called ‘Hypatia‘ by a company called Timefire who claim that they’re building the first Virtual Reality City….
A ridiculous claim of course.
Ebbe talks about how SL is being used for business meetings, helping people who suffer from PTSD, people dealing with phobias, he mentions the lovely Fran who has Parkinson’s but finds much joy from Second Life, as seen in the wonderful Drax Files episode you can see by clicking here.
He talks about Education, the over 500 institutions that use SL (would have been more without the Tier fiasco of a few years back I reckon) for their lessons.
Ebbe talks a bit about the current state of VR, the headsets are coming, expensive but prices are coming down rapidly and of course an Oculus headset is cheaper than a similar VR rig would have cost a few years ago.
The next subject is the democratisation of a medium and that Project Sansar will make it possible for everyone and anyone to create and share.
He explains that most of us do not know how to actually create, just like in RL we live in a world where most of the things around us are made by others.
It always worries me a bit when that is mentioned because I keep wondering if Sansar will have easy building tools.
Being able to build whatever you want in SL, even if it isn’t easy, is one of the best things about SL and I think it is essential for Sansar as well.
Then again, I assume that most SL users are not creators.
Linden Lab has been working on Sansar for 2 and a half years now, a big investment but luckily SL is still “kicking off a lot of money” for them.
There are 75 people working on Sansar.
One of the creations made in the alpha stage of Sansar is a co-project between the Sorbonne University and the Ministry of Antiquities of Egypt, which shows laser scanned 3D models (of 50 million polygons!) of tombs and historical locations which the Sansar team then decreased to 40 thousand polygons and uploaded.
Which is very exciting but it does raise the question; why didn’t they build and upload it themselves in Sansar?
Either way, now anyone, anywhere could explore these tombs in Sansar (once it opens to the public).
A great example of a wonderful educational display.
Next we get some actual Sansar Video footage, the first we’ve seen since that very short video on a screen behind Ebbe at another conference.
First we see someone (Jason) using controllers and a headset (vive) to ‘create’, but what he is really doing is just moving things about and Ebbe says that you don’t really need to know how to actually create those objects, which worries me a bit again.
Because I want to create those objects and Blender isn’t easy.
Nevertheless, it looks cool and very much like I’d imagine it would be, we’re doing our SL moving about of stuff, but with controllers and a headset, even though we of course don’t NEED those for Sansar.
Next we get a smooth video which has been edited and comes with flash music showing quite a few very interesting and I must admit, impressive shots.
Skip to 12:38 if you want to see the footage.
We see a wonderful museum of the Partially excavated Ancient Greek (IV-III B.C.) villa Ortli in Crimea (did they use this model?) which looks very good and contrary to what I thought to see first time; the shadows do fall nicely over the ruins in stead of ignoring them.
The Egyptian ruins look nice, but very much like a 3d scanned model, which of course it is.
Nevertheless as a history addict with many connections in the world of archeology, I’ve seen this kind of thing before, but it becomes interesting when we see an avatar walking out of the tomb, into the light.
We’ve got working shadows and someone who isn’t walking with the dreaded SL duckwalk.
She then walks across a winter landscape with wonderful mountains, snow everywhere and a bright sun above.
Then we move on to the cinema that we’ve seen pictures of before.
It is wonderfully retro Art Deco and I for one would love to go visit it soon.
The film playing is the new ‘Captain America; Civil war’ film, if I am not mistaken.
Let’s assume they were watching the trailer… for copyright’s sake 😉
Then we find ourselves in some sort of post apocalyptic Mad Max kind of landscape, with more walking avatars and a working kind of cable car system.
We then see someone diving into the sea, but if you look closely you see some sort of platform in the middle, so I think that what we’re actually seeing is a place where you as an avatar can enjoy a 360° video.
More apocalyptic stuff with a nice windlight setting.
And finally we see the Golden Gate bridge, which we’ve also seen before but this time without the flying crafts but a lady walking across it.