Wednesday, February 04, 2009

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Intel Outside: Noting Second Life's Limitations, Intel Futurists Launch "ScienceSim" in OpenSimulator


This is very interesting news in itself, and perhaps an early sign of a broader trend to come:  last week, scientists and futurists with Intel's Research@Intel division announced the beta launch of ScienceSim, which "enables customizable physics, optimizations to achieve better scalability, and can serve as a testbed for data visualization and control for science experiments like fusion reactions, biomedical applications, geophysical, intelligence analysis."  Researchers with the major chip manufacturer created this to develop material for the Supercomputing 2009 conference, where they hope to demonstrate the potential of the 3D Internet.

Intel has been a longtime supporter of Second Life, and in 2007 created an Intel® Dev Zone there; so why not do this project in SL? 

While admiring the experience it provided, Intel senior business strategist John Hengeveld explains, "I kept running into artificial barriers limiting how immersive this experience could be. Only a certain number of people in an area at a time, or lagatosis, physics that wasn’t, etc."  Which eventually led to OpenSim and ScienceSim, first example of "a turnkey kit" Intel developers created for companies and researchers to use for developing "specific applications in virtual worlds, data visualization and analysis."  This Intel solution will likely lead to direct competition with the configurable, "behind the firewall" sims that Linden developers are currently working on.  (Which last I heard, is still in Alpha.)

Anyway, here's all the instructions for checking out ScienceSim for yourself.  If you visit, do report back here.  Hat tip on this project goes to my colleague RightAsRain Rimbaud of Rezzable, who has some thoughts on it here, including this salient point that Intel's OpenSim work fits in with the company's "immersive connected experience" initiative.  "The more you need strong chips," notes Rimbaud, "the more we all need Intel's stuff."  Image


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Charles2 McCaw

Of course this project is of vital interest to me since I am researching the ways in which both science and spirituality get communicated in virtual worlds. That said, I opened an account in science sim and found, not the best of Second Life, but the worst. I don't refer to the steamy stuff that gets over reported. I refer to the many wonderful builds that are seldom used. At the moment there is "virtually" no one in science sim. Actually, there were two users inworld when I visited this evening. As a venue for what amounts to private meetings or by invitation only events, such a platform would have its uses. And without many avatars around, one could avoid lag, grief, and, above all, the human beings who cause both of those things in all our worlds. Until these "open sims," aka "gated communities" start to be culturally visible, they are a sidebar to the main narrative of the virtual.

Graham Mills

I think it's a fair way off to the Supercomputing conference so it is a little harsh to judge them by what is there at present. It isn't clear to me that their primary aim at present is to build community inworld. What surprised me, however, was the smoothness of the experience given that I had only heard of bumpiness previously with regard to OpenSim. If they can bring just a part of the Supercomputing community into virtual worlds, I think it would be a very positive development in terms of legitimising scientific applications of the technology.

Hugobiwan Zolnir

I totally agree with this comment.

In fact the grid is well done, and official builders can be asked to put your flyer inworld (i did :).

I now can't imagine how virtual world evangelists can organize IRL conferences without setting up virtual/real events offering them to the worldwide community.

Best regards from France.

Peter Stephens

Hyperbole. This looks like a PR stunt, surely everyone knows that OpenSim is not ready for a commercial venture of this magnitude?

Although I support OpenSim, my worry is the hype wave: reality vs expectations. I work in it, I should know better than anyone else. OpenSim is 2 years away from being viable at this level.

Is John Hengeveld doing an IBM - Ian Hughes? Developing their own personal brand, within a major organization, we all know what happened to Ian! /shifted

Let's get OpenSim ready, please don't ruin it!

Wizard Gynoid

A reliable source tells me that Intel is about to release an update to OpenSim which allows the concurrent users on a sim to go to 150. Intel seems to take seriously the problem of lag.

Mo Hax

Afraid I have to agree with Peter on this one. As great and quickly moving as OpenSim is, it is still alpha software. The statement that the SL sim-behind-a-firewall is "still alpha" without the same statement about OpenSim--although it is almost the first thing listed on the main page--implies a stability distinction that just would be wrong. OpenSim remains (wonderful) alpha software. Anyone that has coded and built in both for any length of time surely realizes this. Let those anticipating such work not be deceived nor have their expectations unfulfilled, for now. It sure it fun to play with, even in a business context, and is destined for great things as the Apache of virtual worlds.

Peter Stephens

If you OpenSim it, it's does not mean they will come...

John's blanket statement about Second Life:

"I kept running into artificial barriers limiting how immersive this experience could be. Only a certain number of people in an area at a time, or lagatosis, physics that wasn’t, etc."

What a strange thing to say?!

John, is this Intel's official party line on Second Life?

What is he talking about, OpenSim is Second Life... The same issues plague both platforms... OpenSim is a 100 yards behind Second Life at this time. All very odd and fishy. Why is he so anti-SL?

I just ported into this project, it's crashing and empty... I was there for 40 mins, no one came to see me, or anyone for me to visit my entire visit. People seem to forget, Second Life is SL because of the community. Something that's taken 6 years to foster and nurture.

It would seem to me, this would of been better off created on the Second Life Grid. At least Intel would of been in the place where their target audience reside.

OpenSim is great if you want to run your own private network, goofing around etc. (for now anyway).

Intel PR stunt - fail!



Charles2 McCaw

Of course, there is great irony in John's statement ... "Only a certain number of people in an area at a time, or lagatosis." One has lag precisely because there ARE a certain number of people in an area at a time. And for ScienceSim to avoid lagatosis, it can succeed only by limiting the number of people!

It seems people at Intel have the same idea about virtual worlds as some early pioneers of the internet ... seeing it as a platform for rarified exchange of ideas and information as one might experience at a research university. In fact, their campus looks like a research university!

But what got the web off the group was ordinary people doing the little trivial things, like chatting! And we chattered our way into the world wide web, a far greater thing than was dreamed of by many of the pioneers.

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