Category Archives: Other Worlds

A look inside the alpha world of High Fidelity

HF-logoI tend to keep an eye on the High Fidelity blog as and when I have the time (I’m currently waiting to see if I get into the next phase of alpha testing, as I’ve so far failed to build the client (I sucketh at tech sometimes), so try to keep up with developments. I also confess to hoping for another video from AKA…). This being the case, it was interesting to get a look behind the doors at what has been going on within High Fidelity courtesy of self-proclaimed “bouncer”, Dan Hope.

Dan’s blog post turns the spotlight away from the work of the core High Fidelity team and focuses it on those alpha testers / builders who have built the client, made the connection and have started poking at various aspects of the platform and the worklist.

Austin Tate is a name well-known within OpenSim and Second Life. His c.v. is quite stellar, and includes him being the Director of the Artificial Intelligence Applications Institute (AIAI) and a Professor of Knowledge-Based Systems at the University of Edinburgh. Austin’s work has encompassed AI, AI planning and the development of collaborative workspaces using virtual environments and tools – particularly the I-Room.

Within High Fidelity, where he is known as Ai_Austin, he’s been extending the work on I-Rooms and collaborative spaces (both of which seem to have an ideal “fit” with High Fidelity) and has been working on 3D modelling, with Dan noting:

You might have figured out by now that 3D worlds are no good if they can’t handle 3D models accurately, which is why Ai_Austin also tests mesh handling for complex 3D objects. The image above shows the “SuperCar” mesh, which has 575,000 vertices and 200,000 faces, being tested in HiFi. There are several other meshes he uses, too, including one of the International Space Station that was provided by NASA.

SuperCar has also featured in Austin’s work within SL and OpenSim, where he has been providing invaluable insight into working with the Oculus Rift, the development of support for it within the viewer, using it with other hardware (such as the Space Navigator). In fact, if you have any interest at all in the areas of AI, virtual world workspaces, VR / VW integration, etc., then I cannot recommend Austin’s blog highly enough (We also share a passion for astronomy / space exploration and (I suspect) for racing cars, but that’s something else entirely!).

Ctrlaltdavid might also be a name familiar to many in SL and OpenSim, being the HiFi name of Dave Rowe (Strachan OFarrel in SL), the man behind the CtrlAltStudio viewer which focuses on adding OpenGL stereoscopic 3D and Oculus Rift support to the viewer.

With High Fidelity, he’s working on Leap Motion integration, to provide a higher degree of control over an avatar’s hands and fingers than can be achieved through the use of other tools, such as a the Razer Hydra. The aim here is to increase the sense of immersion for users without necessarily relying on clunky hand-held devices. As we know, the Leap Motion sits on the desk and leaves the hands free to gesture, point, etc., and thus would seem and ideal companion when accessing a virtual environment like HiFi (or SL) when using a VR headset; or even without the headset if one wishes to have a degree of liberation from the keyboard.

Dan Hope demonstrates avatar finger motion using the Leap Motion, as being coded by CtrlAltDavid in High Fidelity (Image: High Fidelity blog)

Opening this look at the work of various alpha testers / builders, Dan notes:

We can’t create a truly open system without making it compatible with other open-source tools, which is why Judas has been creating a workflow that will allow artists to make 3D models in the open source program Blender using HiFi’s native FBX format.

This forms a useful introduction to the work of Judas, who has been involved in bringing High Fidelity and Blender closer together in terms of providing improved FBX support for the platform, which is now bearing fruit. “Only last week something was added in that allowed me to import the HiFi avatars into Blender without destroying the rigs we need to animate them,” Judas is quoted as saying in the blog post.

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OpenSimulator Community Conference registrations open

2014 banner

Registrations have opened for the 2014 OpenSimulator Community Conference. Attendance is free, but for those wishing to donate to the supporting this and future conferences, there are a number of options to do so, ranging from $10.00 USD through to $200.00 USD, all of which offer various benefits to purchasers.

For the full range of ticket options and their repsective benefits, and to book your place at the conference, please visit the conference ticket page.

Note that tickets will be available strictly on a first come, first served basis, and that the conference will be streamed via UStream for those unable to secure a ticket.

The current keynote speakers for the conference are:

  • Dr. Steve LaValle, a professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois, is the principal scientist for Oculus VR, who will be addressing attempts to bring the Oculus Rift headset to the mass consumer market
  • Philip Rosedale, CEO of High Fidelity Inc., who will address the question, “What is the Metaverse?” and discuss the opportunity to develop an open platform for virtual reality over the internet, including new hardware devices that catalyze entirely new kinds of interactions between avatars.
OSSC keynote speakers Steve Lavalle (l) and Philip Rosedale (r)

OSSC keynote speakers Steve Lavalle (l) and Philip Rosedale (r)

About the OpenSimulator Conference

The OpenSimulator Community Conference is an annual evnet that focuses on the developer and user community creating the OpenSimulator software.  Organised as a joint production by the Overte Foundation and AvaCon, Inc., the conference features two days of presentations, workshops, keynote sessions, and social events across diverse sectors of the OpenSimulator user base.

The 2014 OpenSimulator Conference will take place on the OpenSimulator Conference Centre grid on November 8th and 9th, 2014, with registrations opening on September 15th, 2014, and interested parties can sign up to receive an email reminder to register.

The conference will include four themed tracks and a Learning Lab for hands on hackerspaces, speedbuilds, and more:

About the Organisers

The Overte Foundation is a non-profit organization that manages contribution agreements for the OpenSimulator project.  In the future, it will also act to promote and support both OpenSimulator and the wider open-source 3D virtual environment ecosystem.

AvaCon, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth, enhancement, and development of the metaverse, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and 3D immersive and virtual spaces. We hold conventions and meetings to promote educational and scientific inquiry into these spaces, and to support organized fan activities, including performances, lectures, art, music, machinima, and much more. Our primary goal is to connect and support the diverse communities and practitioners involved in co-creating and using virtual worlds, and to educate the public and our constituents about the emerging ecosystem of technologies broadly known as the metaverse.

 Related links

This is as Easy as it gets

HF-logoOn August 14th, the High Fidelity team issued a blog post featuring the first number by AKA, the company’s informal group of singers of Emily, Ozan and Andrew. While light-hearted in nature, the video further demonstrated HiFi’s work on facial expression and gesture capture.

I wrote about the video and post as a part of a quick update on HiFi, and noted at the time that “executive producer” (and HiFi co-founder) Ryan Karpf would be providing more information on what went into the video and session.

Ryan Karpf, HiFi co-founder and "executive producer" for AKA's cover of "Easy"

Ryan Karpf, HiFi co-founder and “executive producer” for AKA’s cover of “Easy”

Keeping to his word, Ryan did just that on Tuesday August 26th, releasing a video on how it was all done (embedded below), together with a brief blog post inviting those already in the Hi Fi Alpha testing programme to consider submitting their own videos … assuming, that is, they have the hardware.

Ryan’s piece explains how the team put together the music video and overcame some stumbling blocks, although I admit I’d probably have a better chance of understanding Brad Hefta-Gaub’s explanation of a server crash issues had he been speaking Klingon (which is probably why I’m not in the Alpha)! Fortunately, Ryan is on-hand to offer a single-sentence translation into English. The video also reveals how the team were unable to film the song as a single “live” performance, as had been hoped, but in the end had to rely on traditional post-recording editing to produce the finished piece.

As well as being informative, Ryan’s video is also somewhat hypnotic … I confess to becoming quite captivated by the level of conversation going on between his eyebrows even before he presents us with more exaggerated facial movements to underscore a point! :)

It’ll be interesting to see how this work develops, and whether the HiFi team really do get to the point of being able to record a completely fluid and “live” performance; I rather suspect they will. But even without this, the Easy video tends to demonstrate how much more engaging something like a musical set could be when one can see more of the performer’s facial expressions and actions when playing a musical instrument reflected in their avatar.

In the meantime, and for ease of reference (and because I like it and find myself singing along with Emily), is the music video itself, complete with Chris and Ryan’s “outtakes”.

 

High Fidelity founder to address OpenSimulator Conference

2014 banner

On Thursday August 28th, Chris Collins, writing on behalf of the 2nd OpenSimulator Community Conference, announced a further keynote speaker at the event will be Philip Rosedale, co-founder of Second Life and most recently a founder of High Fidelity Inc.

The press release states that:

Mr. Rosedale’s keynote presentation will address the question, “What is the Metaverse?” and discuss the opportunity to develop an open platform for virtual reality over the internet, including new hardware devices that catalyze entirely new kinds of interactions between avatars.

Philip Rosedale: Opensimulator Community Conference Keynote Speaker

Philip Rosedale: OpenSimulator Community Conference Keynote Speaker

In 1995, Philip Rosedale created an innovative Internet video conferencing product called “FreeVue”. This was subsequently acquired by RealNetworks, where he was appointed Vice President and CTO in 1996.  During 1999, Rosedale left RealNetworks to co-found Linden Research Inc., operating under the name of Linden Lab, with the intention of developing an open-ended, Internet-connected virtual world. In 2003, Linden Lab publicly launched Second Life.

Rosedale departed Linden Lab in 2010, after serving twice at the company’s CEO and as the chair of the board. Since then, he has established both Coffee & Power and Worklist.net, both focused on distributed work and computing. In 2013, he co-founded High Fidelity Inc. to explore the future of a next-generation virtual reality system.

Commenting on his appearance at the OpenSimulator Community Conference, Chris Collins said, “Philip Rosedale is one of the foremost thinkers about virtual reality and the Metaverse today,” said conference chair Chris Collins. “We look forward to hearing his thoughts on the next generation of open Metaverse platforms, including OpenSimulator.”

About the OpenSimulator Conference

The OpenSimulator Community Conference is an annual evnet that focuses on the developer and user community creating the OpenSimulator software.  Organised as a joint production by the Overte Foundation and AvaCon, Inc., the conference features two days of presentations, workshops, keynote sessions, and social events across diverse sectors of the OpenSimulator user base.

The 2014 OpenSimulator Conference will take place on the OpenSimulator Conference Centre grid on November 8th and 9th, 2014, with registrations opening on September 15th, 2014, and interested parties can sign up to receive an email reminder to register.

The conference will include four themed tracks and a Learning Lab for hands on hackerspaces, speedbuilds, and more:

About the Organisers

The Overte Foundation is a non-profit organization that manages contribution agreements for the OpenSimulator project.  In the future, it will also act to promote and support both OpenSimulator and the wider open-source 3D virtual environment ecosystem.

AvaCon, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth, enhancement, and development of the metaverse, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and 3D immersive and virtual spaces. We hold conventions and meetings to promote educational and scientific inquiry into these spaces, and to support organized fan activities, including performances, lectures, art, music, machinima, and much more. Our primary goal is to connect and support the diverse communities and practitioners involved in co-creating and using virtual worlds, and to educate the public and our constituents about the emerging ecosystem of technologies broadly known as the metaverse.

 Related links