Google+ Adventures of a Southern Gentleman: Second Life, not just about gratuitous sex and violence

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Second Life, not just about gratuitous sex and violence

During one of my recent Google searches for new articles on Second Life, I came across the following article which tickled my fancy (and don't we all need our fancy tickled from time to time?)  (Note: edited to replace original link with link to web archive, original link no longer available)

Now this is what it's all about.......using Second Life for new and interesting things.

In brief, the article is about a University of California - Irvine computer scientist named Crista Lopes who has used Second Life to test out software to control a virtual rapid-transit system called SkyTran. What's really cool is that after the software's been tested out in Second Life the plan is that she's going to transfer it to a real life version of SkyTran.

Apparently the physics of Second Life (Havok 2, for you technical types) is close enough to the real world that she can cheaply simulate the SkyTran operation and work out the kinks in the system, in both the physical design as well as the controlling software.

For example, according to the article, they discovered that aligning the express track directly over the platform, while perfectly safe, wouldn't feel that way to the rider. Not something you would notice based on a CAD drawing but apparent to an avatar riding the pod in Second Life.

They also discovered that if a clear glass pod as is used in the Second Life version, were used in real-life, it could expose passengers to a fast, repetitive pattern of track components which could potentially produce seizures in some people.

There's more in the article, give it a read....

If you care to see it in person, the slurl for the SkyTran platform is....

If you do decide to visit don't expect much, it's not fancy and it was obvious to me that it is truly an experimental design as stated in the article.


When I was there I wasn't able to persuade the pod to take me around, though I was able to reset the tracks and watch them rebuild themselves by messing with the two white blocks on the ground, clicking the buttons to reset everything and the blocks themselves to rebuild it all and that was kinda neat.


I'd really love to see more of this sort of thing in Second Life, it seems to me that there is so much untapped potential in this virtual world of ours, we've just scratched the surface and there's more and better to come.

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