This is funky. Playing virtual tennis in real space with your cell phone. I love augmented reality technologies (see Greenflame: Augmented Reality, Children’s Books and Ritual), and the video clips at the HITL (NZ) web site have some interesting demos. (Just wish they were in Quicktime or MPEG formats – never know how WMV is going to perform on the old iBook)
3quarksdaily: Poison in the Ink: How Virtual Worlds Mirror Our Own is an article picking up on the popularity of the large-scale online multi-player gaming systems.
Article over at BetterHumans.com on virtual humans – those created by scans, computer programs, and video capture. See pragmatica : The growing role of virtual humans.
Anyway, it’s a Gilbert and Sullivan knockoff available for download at I am the very model of a Singularitarian – Charlie Kam’s H+ filk. Just writing up some notes on the “Singularity” so it made me smile. The link to the web page has the lyrics too, which is good because the jargon and buzzwords come thick and fast.
The podcast wasn’t bad either with some interesting ideas about virtual reality.
A few years back (2001?) I played around with LifeFX (Windows/IE only) which at that point had a funky email program (FaceMail?) you could download and then its avatar software would recite your emails to you with speech synthesis, a “life-like” avatar and recognition of emoticons. So I was interested when I saw this today: Wired News: Avatars Among Us.
I remember discussing with some friends that the way that sociable computers might come about would not be through embodied robotics but through an AI system hooked up to an avatar (maybe trained through embodied robotics though). If you spend you day interacting with a life-like avatar then over time you may come to consider it more than a program on your computer (or PDA or media player).
LifeFX was developed in part using technology researched in part here at the University of Auckland for medical simulations. There’s an article here about it: Wired 8.12: Must Read – Interface2face.
Oh, and there are some video clips of it here: LifeFX Demos.
Just skimming through these while list current applications of virtual reality in practice. These look amazing though I’m not sure I’d volunteer to test “Spider-World” (which means of course I’m a good candidate for it.)
Hoffman, Hunter G. “Virtual-Reality Therapy.” Scientific American 291, no. 2 (2004): 58-65. [HTML version]North, Max M., Sarah M. North, and Joseph R. Coble. “Virtual Reality Therapy: An Effective Treatment for Psychological Disorders.” In Handbook of Virtual Environments : Design, Implementation, and Applications, ed. Kay M. Stanney, 1065-1078. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002.
Rizzo, Albert A., J. Galen Buckwalter, and Cheryl van der Zaag. “Virtual Environment Applications in Clinical Neuropsychology.” In Handbook of Virtual Environments : Design, Implementation, and Applications, ed. Kay M. Stanney, 1027-1064. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002.
Article on the Economist web site observing the love for robots in Japan. Has a few religious points of contact too. See Japan’s humanoid robots | Better than people | Economist.com.
Related to this is the Robotic Life group at MIT. Head over and have a look at their site. On their publications page they have some papers you can download that would fit with the article above, especially the ones about robots as collaborative partners.
Another interesting article is Wired News: Monsters of Photorealism which comments on the ideas of Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori. Mori asserts that the more real you try to make a simulacrum of the human being – a robot or in VR/video games/films – the less convincing they become, to the point of becoming disconcerting or even repulsive. (See also Uncanny Valley – Wikipedia.)
Anyway, that’s enough random thesis connections falling out of my head for today.