Aarnet's mixed reality workshop

By | September 18, 2009

AARnet  is considering a move into hosting virtual environments on its academic research network, and is exploring the idea of creating an  intra-world  for Australia’s research institutions  to whom it supplies superfast connectivity. The workshop (program here) was held at Wollongong University’s new  iC (Innovation Campus).  

I presented a ‘primer’ of virtual worlds,  AARnet’s James Sankaar’s  idea, which I am now going to expand for wider readership.  Part of my presentation involved a hook up with RMIT’s Lisa Dethridge  in Second Life as she took me  (and the conference attendees via screens)  through ‘Dark Luminance’, a gallery show which exists both at Mars Gallery in Melbourne and at RMIT’s island in Second Life. We were able to modify the exhibits in the virtual world, the idea being this creates a feedback loop of sorts for the artists.  And arguably, there is a deeper engagement for the viewer/participant of the work.

Conference content incorporated a brave mix of media. On the technical side : well it worked and it didn’t.  The u-stream  feed relaying a  conversation with Exit Reality’s Danny Stephanic was difficult to hear due to lag. Visually it looked like the moon landing. Some sound drop outs when Charles  Mountain talked from SL.

My SL feed with Lisa worked well visually, but I had voice and she did not so we used instant messaging. The writing was too small for the audience to read on the projection screens so I had to read it out for everyone as I went. Clunky,

Then there was the set up time, 3 or 4 techies, high-end equipment and, conservatively, 5 hours set-up time.  A lot of pre-production getting feeds and urls etc organised too. On top of that, the  time zone is a f actor for Second Life crosses. (Eastern seaboard of Australia is +10 GMT. )

The iCampus itself looks like an SL build – free standing staircases and lots of steel and glass).

iC
Real world venue that looked like an SL build.

In particular, it was great to catch up again with Lindy McKeown, who has wealth of knowledge in respect to running mixed reality events (VW and physical world) a rare and valuable resource !  And to meet F2F with Denise Wood  from University of South Australian University. Denise  and her team are pioneering virtual worlds applications for  users with special accessibility needs. (Denise demonstrated the ‘virtual guide dog’ application amongst others).

The verdict on hybrid reality presentations such as this?  Still very much in beta mode but definitely a worthwhile trial. It’s important to expose audiences to these experimental elements and my hunch is they are happy to exchange the technical limitations for the experience and insight.  For myself, there’s always lessons learnt for next time.

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2 thoughts on “Aarnet's mixed reality workshop

  1. Serguei

    I like the idea that a building looks like a SL one. Like the matrix movie, where the actors reproduce gameplay behaviour. Was it done on purpose ?

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  2. mandysalomon

    Interesting point. Increasingly, the influences will flow both ways, consciously or not. The protoyping properties in virtual worlds will encourage the flow as the move to collaboratively design buildings continues. The design similarities may also be due to the tool sets in the drafting software used by the architects sharing properties with SL building tools. Personally I prefer not to live in a world of rectangular prims. (I have a penchant for vaulted ceilings) – so I hope 3Dmodelling apps incorporate organic design options into the basic pack rather than build them into the premium version:)

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