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Thursday, March 08, 2012


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Missy Restless

An interesting and thought provoking article. I can see the AR/VR near future curbside virtual billboards barking their we-know-what-you-like-on-facebook salespitch but I'm not sure it's Second Life or even OpenSim content unless Microsoft/Apple/Google bought Linden Lab to help develop what will no doubt be the very proprietary Apple Virtual TV or Microsoft VR or Google Omniscient Ubik. Will they be using LSL in 2025 ? We can only hope and pray either way.

Anyway, seriously, I think you're onto something. Even if it's not Second Life content or OpenSim based the familiarity, skills, brands, experience, tadadada we have gained may give us an initial competitive edge. I can totally see an adaptation of my line of Pandorabots used to easily, quickly, and ubiquitously query Wikipedia/Wolfram Alpha/Flickr/Name Your Web Service.

I guess my first request from LL for the Future would be to extend llListen() to be able to understand human RL speech even when on a crowded street with dozens of voices :)

Thanks for the excellent food for thought!

Tee Keela

Wishful thinking, entirely.

The content creating skills in Second Life are either too platform specific or general industry standard to have any competitive edge.

The value of inworld brands is small even within the platform and of no value outside. SL itself has become too irrelevant to be able to use it as a leverage. Hence, costs to establish a new "virtual brand" from scratch are minimal. Again, having originated in SL doesn't bring any competitive edge.

I'm not saying the skills acquired by creating content in SL are useless; they are just not that special or useful compared to many other more professional skill sets.

Penny Patton

OH GAWD! Desmond is going to take over the ship so he can escape from the holodeck into the real world! THEN NOTHING CAN STOP HIM! D:

Emperor Norton

Tee Keela @" I'm not saying the skills acquired by creating content in SL are useless; they are just not that special or useful compared to many other more professional skill sets."

On the other hand Second Life is a good place to practice and refine those skills.

But this raises a real question; if we are to turn San Fransisco into a modern day reconstruction of ancient Athens (presumably the cool white pillared Led Zeppelin album cover version of Athens, not dreary graffiti covered plaster walls and pigs in the street of the Athens of history) what building in San Fransisco shall be the new acropolis? And since Los Angles is San Fransisco's rival will LA be the new Sparta? Sacramento Thebes?

Dartagan Shepherd

As an enhancement to existing applications and a smattering of new stuff there's some potential and some billions, which is why it's getting more attention.

Mainstream is trending toward more lightweight, less immersive, and hardware/platform specific experiences.

If it can make the bookkeeper in the office work faster and more productively than a keyboard and mouse it'll gain workspace experience. If you can use it in your car, on the street or on the plane it may gain mainstream daily use.

If it involves mainstream jumping ship on their busy lives into a time consuming experience like driving down virtual highways and looking at virtual billboards, it's not going to happen on that scale.

Retail purchasing isn't an immersive task online, you would have to provide more speed and ease of use over a flat interface and putting hardware on your head isn't the answer. Might be fun in some spaces like future virtual worlds and gamified "sites".

Also "content creators" outside of SL have always been there, and will be there long after SL. In your scenario there's a finite aggregated space which will also contain an even more finite amount of content creators as that labor too gets aggregated/consolidated as well as the data over time.

Not to say it wouldn't/won't be a fun technological ride, but you've got to be brutally practical about these kind of things when it comes to mainstream.

Masami Kuramoto

The ability to express oneself in three virtual dimensions is becoming more important, now doubt.

However, it's unlikely that the aggregators will be allowed to augment real-world property without the owner's permission. Once people see their own front walls plastered with someone else's virtual ads, there will be lawsuits, and the aggregators will lose them. Keep in mind that Google was forced to let building owners and tenants opt out of Street View in many countries.

Graham Mills

First thoughts: Metaverse Roadmap (2007), second thoughts: Wikitude, Wallit, etc, third thoughts: Google Glasses due by the year end apparently. And let's not forget sci-fi authors like Vernor Vinge, of course.

This is a busy space already and my guess is that its evolution will be similar to that of virtual worlds in terms of navigating the hype curve.

shockwave yareach

this assumes that people will be wearing augmented reality glasses in the future, all the time. You have only to look at the failure of 3D video in the home to understand why that is never going to happen.

It's the glasses.

People don't want to wear the glasses for a couple of hours, never mind all day. People also object to the price tag of simple LCD shutter glasses; do you think they're going to pay half a grand for AR glasses just so you can pump your ads at them no matter where they go? People don't buy things unless they get something out of it. What exactly do AR glasses provide them that's worth the discomfort and cost?

I won't bother waiting for the AR glasses. I'm still waiting for a VR headset that tracks the head that I can play SL on. It has been 20 years now... VR is still a 2d image on a 24" monitor. When stereographic glasses become the norm, perhaps then we can move to AR. But i'm no longer holding my breath -- I look terrible in blue.

Stone Semyorka

This is right on!

Missy Restless

The near-sighted tendancy of humans is astonishing. We won't be wearing 3D goggles, we'll be wearing a Happy Cloak or Smart Tie that is in constant communication with the Smart Curb. The visual field around us will be individually and personally constructed from the Googleplex of datamines. No, you probably won't be able to sell your SL flexi-skirt at Macy's. But, as a trivial example, I've spent the last two years developing "smart" scripted agents that can query Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha, auto-detect language, respond with customized AI, react to user command, provide services and information on demand, animate and display visuals in context, and so on. I do not expect these exact SL objects will be used in the future AR/VR New Athens of San Francisco but I don't think it's far fetched to think the algorithms and design may be adaptable to such an environment.

What Desmond is talking about goes well beyond my trivial vision of providing instant ubiquitous mobile access to all info in every language sculpted to fit the individual. He's going all Dr. Moriarty on us! Holmes help us.

Graham Mills

The first time I used Wikitude I was surprised by the number of points of interest closeby, albeit that some were generated from other services. On the other hand I've barely used it since as it just doesn't do anything useful beyond the cool factor.

I can only assume that Google have done market research due diligence for whatever eyewear they are producing (assuming the rumours are true).

In terms of playing SL or OpenSim, Microsoft Research's Kinect setup does head-tracking though it would be expensive and I'm not entirely convinced by the concept of having my hands behind a screen as a tradeoff for not needing the glasses:


There's concern too that over-use of 3D is bad for your vision iirc.

Pussycat Catnap

All the privacy laws we need to stop Facespam, Google-, and so on are already in place and have been for centuries.

But too many in the legal field lack the understanding of digital space, and lack comparative law training to be able to map the analogies.

Look to common law rules about privacy - public disclosure of private matters, defamation, and appropriation.

The moment you start using your data mining of someone to change up the physical world around them according to how they see it, or to alter how others see them - the analogies become a lot more direct. Crusty old lega types who can't seem to see that invading an email is perfectly analogous to invading an envelope mail won't have that mental problem when the email is representing by a holographic box on your living room floor.

Plastering "Janey is a slut" all over Facebook, itself a violation of a basic rule of common law making it a punitive offense to question to sexual morals of a woman (yes, its still the law in any Common Law country) - which if you wrote it on a piece of paper could cost your thousands, but online those legal types somehow fail to understand their Comparative Law 101 professor (because its an elective course not tested on the bar in any country) will suddenly get it when you make it appear in giant red spinning letters over Janey's head to anyone who looks at her while logged into your service and wearing your VR-contact-lenses...

- All the laws we need to put those Constitutional and Fundamental Common Law rights back in place are there, and would work today, if we only required more in the legal profession to study Comparative Law so they understand how to map analogies. Read any great legal case over the last thousand years though - and you can see Comparative analysis in place. Its what was used to build the Common Law centuries ago.

"this is a bug -insectus creepicus-, its got bug stuff on it. That's a new critter, looks a bit like that bug over there, but its blue. What is it?"
- Current round of judges are baffled. But just because its blue, don't mean it ain't a bug.

My point: Moving to augmented reality will make all these violations -OBVIOUS- like hitting you over the head with a big stick, and we'll see a swing back to a retooling of centuries old rights as those judges have the moment where the drool dripping off their chins hits their arm on the desk and they wake up, look around, and bang the freaking gavel for once...

Pussycat Catnap

eek... my spelling is horrid today with lots of your instead of you and to instead of the...

Rhianon Jameson

Moriarty? Everyone in the Steamlands knows that Jason Moriarty perished in that Dark Aether business.

Interesting analysis from Des...It will be fascinating to see what his next move is.

Desmond Shang

Great comments so far!

In fact I'm glad to see naysayers, it tells me that early adopters will have a chance.

* * * * *

Google Glasses may be a sort of halo product; the one that might 'do it best' but odds are, most people will have access via devices they already own now. Imagine all the people you've seen staring at smart devices in public.

And it will be a 'pushed' experience to start with. Nobody does an internet search to see ads. Yet, there they are, because it makes the search result provider money. People will pay for exposure.

I doubt anyone will walk around all day looking at it, at first (save for a few fanatics). But eventually it will become more and more necessary to live and work in the digital world. Consider tech twenty years ago, now, and twenty years on. Only nerds carried pocket computers in 1992... now almost everyone does.

* * * * *

The gateway experience will likely be in the form of Maps app, that almost everyone has. Maps are about to become *stunningly* good. Here's how good:


And here's an article from literally yesterday:


From there, it's just too easy to turn around and sell that virtual real estate, just like Google sold space within their search results.

Anyone willing to believe that no one will ever try to monetise that space?

Leap ahead a tiny bit from there. Imagine a Las Vegas tradeshow experience, already app~ified, QR~coded and advertised to death for years. Soon: virtual corporate logos, product demos, salesmen with social media contacts swirling around them in 3D for anyone to look and click. Later that night, the same tech used by pimps and dealers on the same crowd. And the evangelical guy protesting the whole scene on the street corner will have his own virtual sign... just because he can. Clothing fashion... completely revolutionised too.

If you could hold your phone up and see this world today... most of you would, in a heartbeat. I doubt the wait will be long at all.

Some of us will be ready for that day, some of us won't. Are you ready? grin...

shockwave yareach

The point is, unless someone has a real neat new way of projecting directly on the retinas (and it better have an off switch) you are going to have to wear the equivalent of a VR set. And VR hasn't taken off even amongst the hardcore computer geek crowd. Ma and Pa Kettle complain about the lightweight glasses they have to wear in a movie theater for 3d. Practically nobody has the 3D stereo glasses for 3D in the home, principly because of the glasses.

How do you expect us to see and hear this new overlay atop the real world? Pointing the phone can work, yes, but it's hardly AR as we don't see the overlay unless we actively point a device at it. AR would be on display all the time.

As for the aggregators, it would seem a simple matter to have my AR device get its data from some other company, and get all different data. Tada, the ad for BBQ is now an ad for an escort service. If I can jailbreak my iphone, I can jailbrake your AR device and see data totally different from yours.


Augmented Reality glasses? 'Better than Life', here we come... it'll be an interesting ride that's for sure.


Good point, Shockwave. I see a potential market here for custom Augmented Reality overlays. Sign up for Desmond's Steampunk AR overlay, a cyberpunk overlay, a Furnation overlay, a Hello Kitty overlay or whatever. Roleplay and gameplay will move into a completely new dimension.
Mind you seeing hordes of AR-zombies waving their arms around while playing in the latest WoW / Skyrim / Mortal Comabt overlay might be a bit much even for my jaded eyes.

shockwave yareach

Alazarin: there was a scifi story about a decade back where a CS guy created an AR system to give his ailing grandmama peace in her old age by making downtown japan look like a small village. Lampposts became trees. Tall buildings were shown as one story buildings. On and on.

As I remember the story ending, grandma died when she tripped over something laying on the sidewalk, and she didn't see it because the overlay blocked it from her view.

If AR does one day become real, there will be lawsuits about injury because a popup telling folks that SUSHI 1/2 PRICE next door blocks signs warning them of hazards nearby. The same lawyers eagerly poised to pounce on Google over the automatic car will be waiting for Google to goof and get someone hurt by blocking hazard signs with their ads or notices.

Graham Mills

Much as I take Google Trends with a large pinch of salt, "augmented reality" as a search term is not, well, trending: http://www.google.com/trends/?q=augmented+reality

Tessa Harrington in Virtual

A lot of your are poohooing Des, but he's got it right. I for one can tell you we're already there ... or at least well on our way. We've got SO3D on Facebook as an application. We've got it running on a web page. And soon it will be on your iPad and Android. Check out this video one of our folks did as a show and tell. http://ez.spoton3d.com/ipad_prototype03.mp4

In our humble opinion it's not the 'VIRTUAL WORLD' that will propel this forward. Step ONE is merging of the classic 2D Web page with three dimensional functionality that's being pushed forward as we speak. And as we merge that with all the latest and greatest new devices we'll all be witness to these concepts and goals being contorted in a million ways to meet the demand for tomorrow's future - yes its really that close. That's why we've always described what we are doing here on spoton3d as developing the 3DWEB ... 'a place to GO, rather than a page to read' as our logo statement goes rather that some fantasy virtual existence. It's gotta touch our real selves to some reasonable degree or its marginalized as 'just a game'.

Graham Mills

I think Alazarin has a point. The most interesting thing SL has to offer are potential themed community hubs, i.e. individuals wanting to see and be seen as steampunks/tinies/etc via AR on some kind of opt-in basis. Of course, AR works on local geospatial data so not so good if you're the only steampunk in town. Of course, this could work both ways in terms of recruiting people into SL.

The privacy issues are pretty intimidating though.

In terms of RL/commerce interactions, you are presumably up against the likes of Facebook, Google and FourSquare who will be better able to "seed" the space. Identifying the SL-specific opportunities would be key.

Graham Mills

Relevant session at sxsw: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP12616

Ann Otoole InSL

google is said to be releasing "Google Glasses" as early as this year. A HUD for RL so you don't have to hold your iphone up. A cool idea the cops already have installed on their cop cars. They have 4 cams (1 per direction) and they scan license plates all around them. They save money and make money off of additional fines for unpaid tickets and expired tags. (and worse things that require backup). Yea. I know. They got me once. I had forgotten to pay a ticket and the trooper was waiting for me when I got off work lmao.

As for this: One of the prerequisites of a good business idea, is to be considered stark raving mad when you begin."

I must have loads of great business ideas. I do. The problem is I see too far forward with fantastic polygon rich worlds while your common "consumer" is more happy with crap like minecraft. Oh well. Enjoy the stupid looking legos.

Desdemona Enfield

This article is channeling Gibson and Vinge.

Read William Gibson's novel "Spook Country" (2007). For his precursor views on this topic, read "Virtual Light" (1993). Read Vernor Vinge's "Rainbows End" (2006), which provides a marvelous description of world wide real time augmented reality as well as a fascinating speculation on the technologies that would enable it.

Does Second Life provide a suitable development platform for augmented reality design? No. The proper tools are Photoshop, Maya, Unity3d (maybe), their cousins, and successors. Artists will create locative art (Gibson's term for real time augmented reality) in isolated studios and present their work in public. Despite all the talk of collaborative development, this is how most art is created in Second Life. It is merely a quirk of Second Life that the studio must be in the grid.

Will Second Life be a visualization server for locative art ? No. Region lag will be the killer wrap for such a plan. The whole concept of seamless locative art requires that the overlay image and the physical image maintain registration as you turn you head. Alas, Second Life is locked into a software design based on circa year 2000 hardware and software technologies. Most subsequent performance improvements have been devoted to supporting an expanding user base.

Will Linden Labs spin off a core division devoted to creating a suitable server architecture for locative art? Unlikely. Witness the bankruptcy of Kodak, which tried to develop a business model suited to the new digital technologies. The film divisions constantly obstructed this effort because they saw it as threat to their business model.

So, quo vadis?

Well (smiles), read “Rainbows End” and “Spook Country”.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_world (for history)
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203471004577141223745435682.html (re Kodak)

If you cannot access the last link, try Googling “WSJ Kodak Fail”. Select the hit titled “Kodak's Long, Slow Slide”


When I finally moved out of the beginners islands in SL, the main thing I was struck with is how much it presented itself as my personal vision of how mixed reality should work. It's that very reason that AR on any head mounted device isn't going to take the world by storm. Early adopters using smartphones have reached their own level of what to expect. Eventually the virtualists and the realists will come to a balance, and we'll have a good experience without being hit over the head by any one app.

Dirk Talamasca

Bettina Tizzy posted on this like... two years ago..

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