As noted, online registration for the conference (of which 3pointD is a media sponsor) ends tomorrow, Friday, October 5. The online reg price is only $795. After Friday, you’ll be able to register onsite at the show beginning 7:30am, Wednesday, October 10, for $995. Reg now and save your cash for drinks with Corey!
Mysterious news on the Millions of Us blog this evening: it seems there’s now a Microsoft island in the virtual world of Second Life. At least, that’s what the »teleport link« in the blog entry implies. And indeed, Microsoft has a build set up on its island devoted to Visual Studio — though it’s not clear what the rest of the island is for. And then there’s the blimp, which Millions of Us clearly wants us to be interested in, especially judging from the teaser video. It’s a pretty nice blimp, actually — although if you get too close to it, it first gives you a security warning, and then teleports you to your home location! More will be revealed at a launch event at 3pm 6pm SL Time (9pm Eastern) on Thursday, 10 May. Until then, it’s interesting to note Microsoft’s presence in Second Life. Various people from Microsoft initiatives like Channel 9 have set up shop in Second Life, and a mad Microsoft marketer chose some interesting spots to make the launch of Vista, but I think this may be the first big Microsoft presence in SL. Hard to tell what it means coming out of such a sprawling company, but it will be interesting to watch. Especially if there’s something good in that blimp.
Microsoft will push the development of geospatial and mapping applications with “unrestricted funding” totaling $1.1 million that has been offered to 21 winners chosen from among more than 140 university teams that responded to a recent Microsoft Research request for proposals. The awards are made for one year.
What I like about this program is that it’s focused squarely on how mapping and geospatial functions can be used to improve our physical lives. According to a press release, “The university research teams aim to study and map the physical world in real time, to push the technological boundaries of local search, and to understand the potential societal impact of these kinds of geographic technologies. New solutions ultimately resulting from the research are expected to yield rich and diverse benefits, such as helping tourists find affordable restaurants with the shortest lines, or helping scientists understand changes in the ecology of biological systems under the threat of climate change.” [Emphasis added.]
Projects already in the works include layering current environmental conditions into a mirror world like Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, or allowing climatologists and other scientists to examine data over the long term to track pollution and climate changes. Other projects take in what we at 3pointD would call augmented reality, combining data from tiny real-world sensors, the Internet and “a variety of other sources” with map information and geographic imagery. There’s also a researcher who’s contemplating recreating his movements in a mirror world so that friends and family can keep up with him remotely. Now that’s my kind of mapping. Continue reading →
Now that is the face of a lifelogger. One of the earliest lifeloggers, in fact. That’s Gordon Bell, lately of Microsoft but before that of DEC, with a couple of other mildly important stops along the way. A 3pointD reader reminded me of Bell the other day by linking to Microsoft’s MyLifeBits project, which I’d last thought about before lifelogging started taking up so much of my brainspace lately. A project of Microsoft’s research labs (not still known as BARC, I believe), MyLifeBits is essentially an experiment in logging Bell’s life in as much detail as possible, with Microsoft developing logging and storage tools along the way. For much more on this, read the long piece by Bell and colleague Jim Gemmell in the latest Scientific American. What I was particularly happy to be reminded of, though, was the fact that lifelogging — which we tend to think of as an outgrowth of MySpacing — in fact has its roots more than 60 years ago, at the dawn of the computing age, in or at least around the time of this July 1945 article in Atlantic Monthly by computing pioneer Vannevar Bush. Interestingly, the problems Bush was grappling with are not so different from those we ponder today: “The difficulty seems to be, not so much that we publish unduly in view of the extent and variety of present-day interests, but rather that publication has been extended far beyond our present ability to make real use of the record.” Continue reading →
Second Life resident Kitten Lulu amusingly points out that of the 10 locations in Second Life that Microsoft has chosen for Windows Vista‘s virtual launch party (at 2pm SL time, featuring Praga Khan), around half of them are places frequented by paid cybersex escorts. Microsoft “Enthusiast Evangelist” Miel Van Opstal has more insight on just why the locations were chosen. The SL launch seems to have been arranged by a European agency (One Agency) that I can’t find a link for. In any case, if you’re interested in seeing how Vista-compatible your Second Life sex life is, check it out. (SLurls here.) [Via World of SL.]
The Google Earth Blog carries the news that Jeff Han, who developed a truly amazing multi-touch screen interface at NYU, is now commercializing the product through his new company, Perceptive Pixel. Fast Company has a great piece on Han, and there’s a bandwidth-intensive video to watch, which shows some pretty mind-blowing stuff. When I first started hearing about these things last spring I was drooling over them, and they only seem to have gotten cooler since then. Little word yet on pricing, though Fast Company notes that there are already competitors out there. These include Microsoft (at around $50,000) and perhaps even Apple. Han has already sold a screen to the military for six figures, however. Now all I need is a little extra cash.
Three nice Google Earth items to bring you (one of which includes Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, actually). First up is a nice piece in Spiegel Online about the race between Google and Microsoft to virtualize the planet. It’s linked from the All Points Blog, which notes, “I didn’t learn anything new, but it’s a nice article. And, there’s no mention of how the two will monetize these investments.” That’s a good assessment, of the piece, which still makes for worthwhile reading.
Stefan Geens at Ogle Earth also points out some nice functionality for those using Google Calendar to schedule their days: “you can put a link to a KML file in the “Where” field of an event, and Google will map it for you in Google Maps.” Nice. Here’s more info.
Lastly, Stefan also turns up Google Earth Chess! I haven’t tried it so I can’t tell you exactly how it works, but according to Stefan, “You play against others online, make your moves in the browser, and then see the resulting game develop on a big 3D chessboard in Google Earth.” This is really interesting, as it (like a few of the other Google Earth games that have come along) begins to push the app toward a more multi-user situation. Although, as Stefan points out, “I also wish it would be possible to get network links for games in progress, so we can watch along.”
Reader Richard Hensler just drew my attention to UniveRSS, a 3D RSS feed reader for Windows Vista. My first reaction was, “So what?” But my second reaction was, “Perfect! I need this right away.” Why? Because the size and position of the icons representing each feed in the UniveRSS window is determined by the number of unread items each contains. I don’t know about you, but I have so many feeds in my reader that they’re almost impossible to navigate. A 3D representation of them, sorted in this way, would make them much more useful. My third reaction was, “Why not let us arrange them by relevance, or in some other manner?” But we can do that ourselves, since not only can you download the application, but you can even download the source code itself. Now all I need is Vista, heh.
I haven’t checked this out much yet, but Second Life resident FlipperPA Peregrine (creator of SLBoutique.com), sends words of Microsoft’s new beta release of Virtual Earth 3D, which runs in your Web browser and is available through a link in the left sidebar at the Live Search site. As you can see in the image of the Las Vegas strip above, the level of detail is mighty impressive. And wow, I just checked out the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s very nice. As James Fee points out, “It streams much slower than [Google Earth], but the detail is many times better.” If you haven’t seen this yet, install it now — in IE only, not Firefox, natch.
This landed while I was on hiatus, but is so cool and 3pointD that I can’t help but blog it here. Microsoft Live Labs’ Photosynth technology (in preview) matches up hundreds of photographs of the same location to create an image space that’s navigable in three dimensions. The technology works by making a “point map” of each image and then mapping all the images together in the same space. Besides the fact that you can make a 3D space out of photos that were casually taken by a hundred different tourists, say, what’s cool about this is that the software retains metadata for each photo, so that you can drill into an image and then pop out the other side at the Web page of the person who took the picture. Continue reading →
There’s another cool touchscreen interface on the move, this one coming out of Microsoft, though it’s just been licensed to EON Reality, who do the Raptor plug-in for 3dsMax. The interface is known as TouchLight, and is essentially a rear-projected vertical screen that takes gestural input, much like a number of interfaces I’ve blogged about before. I’m not sure if this is the same screen Robert Scoble told us about when he was on the Metaverse Sessions a few weeks ago, but it looks pretty good in this video. Actually, what’s suprising to me here is how quickly I start to take this stuff for granted. It’s not even on the market yet and already I’m watching this video going, “Oh yeah, there’s a ton of stuff like that out there.” Well, it’s not, really. But it will be soon. [Via press release.]
Via Virtual Earth links to show|time|maps, a really nice movie listing mashup that uses Microsoft’s Virtual Earth to produce a map of movies showing in your area. You can’t see this in the screenshot, but what’s nice about this little app is that when you mouse over a movie title, the squares where it’s next showing light up on the map with the cinema name beside them, and the showtimes show up in the window on the bottom left. (There are other navigation options as well.) I like how this mashup is so closely tied to time. Would be great on a portable device. At least, a portable device in Los Angeles or Austin TX, which are the only cities on the app at the moment.
Lili Cheng of Microsoft, who formerly ran the Social Computing Group there; Tom Ngo, CEO of NextPage; Chris Thomas, chief strategy officer at Intel; Gary Bennitt of Goowy; and Kevin Lynch of Adobe spoke about the future of the desktop at the Supernova conference during a lunchtime roundtable. Much of their discussion revolved around whether data would be centrally stored in future, or stored locally in a number of locations. Interesting privacy and identity issues came up (they start about halfway down this post), and panelists’ remarks also shed some long-term light on how the 3pointD world might become more mobile and distributed, and just how long that might take. Continue reading →
Real estate maps mashups were one of the first user-generated tools for apps like Google Maps. Now Century 21, the world’s largest real estate sales organization, has a mashup of its own, based in Microsoft’s Virtual Earth and MapPoint, according to a press release. Century 21’s Property Search Gold lets prospective home-buyers browse sale properties on a satellite map based on their own search criteria. Not a hugely exciting new class of application, but interesting to see a big company buy into this kind of mashup on a big scale.
My partner in podcasting, John Swords, has just posted Metaverse Session Episode 4, our chat with Microsoft technical evangelist Robert Scoble and his son Patrick, the Mini Scobleizer. (Listen in the sidebar here or at the Metaverse Sessions site.) In a pretty amusing chat, the Scobles talk about the perils faced by underage Second Life residents, and the elder Scobleizer weighs in on some of the things we’d been discussing at the Metaverse Roadmap summit.
Also on the site (and in the sidebar here) is the keynote speech by IMVU‘s Will Harvery, delivered at the SDForum the same weekend. Harvey gives an interesting and very detailed study of the development and growth of IMVU. Good listening for anyone interested in how connectivity is evolving on the Web.
This press release from Microsoft flags their free downloadable MapCruncher tool. which lets users “take existing road maps and aerial imagery and overlay particular, specialized maps to create unique mash-ups tailored to the userâ€™s specific interests.” The user maps get layered atop Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, and then registered and tiled into something useful. As far as I can tell from the examples that are liked from the Microsoft site, this is actually pretty unexciting stuff. It’s nice to be able to match up registrations, but the tool doesn’t seem to add much (any?) interactability — though I imagine that could be layered on through the API. Anyway, for those with more time than me who will want to play around with it (and hopefully report back their findings), there’s a tutorial linked here.
Microsoft’s Robert Scoble dropped in on the second day of the Metaverse Roadmap to hang out and observe the proceedings — and give John Swords and me a podcast interview, along with his son Patrick, that will soon be up on The Metaverse Sessions. We chatted for a while after the interview, and mentioned an idea that had been tossed around at the summit: that Microsoft would eventually get into virtual worlds and/or 3D Web technology in a big way. Turns out we weren’t as far off as one might think. Continue reading →
Here’s an idea that’s been kicking around in my head lately: PeopleTagging. It grows out of the question of who I am online. Am I my Web site? Am I my email address? My toon name? My password? Or am I the person sitting at the keyboard, and if so, how do you translate that into various online contexts?
PeopleTagging first, deep techno-philosophical questions to follow. PeopleTagging presumes a world in which we all have easy access to wireless RFID- and GSM-enabled devices (if we want them). It would also be helped along by an app like Wayfinder, a 3D digital earth for Java-enabled mobile phones that should be in beta as of May 2 (according to Ogle Earth), or Google Maps Mobile, a 2D version of the same idea. The basic concept is that you’d use your computer or your mobile device to search for someone within a network of friends or some other community, click on their name, and have your browser zoom in to their location anywhere in the world. Maybe you can then open a communication link to them — voice, IM, SMS, whatever — or, if they happen to be cruising around Second Life or There.com at the moment, would let you drill down further to find them within that world and even launch the application so you could meet up with them there. Continue reading →
Jeremiah Owyang sends over a link to a podcast he’s just posted on his blog, in which he interviews two Second Life users from opposite ends of the SL spectrum. One is his friend Chris Salazar, a 20-year-old Santa Clara University student who’s just been introduced to the virtual world, and the other is Robert Scoble of Microsoft, who’s been evangelizing SL left and right lately. Continue reading →
I’m still baffled as to why anyone would navigate to pixel-selling ad sites like Million Dollar Homepage — unless it’s that they found the link in a blog like this. In any case, I find it highly amusing that the latest such site, Virtual World Real Estate, is selling little pieces of a Microsoft Virtual Earth map to all comers. The more recent buyer took all of Pennsylvania and Israel for a whopping $77,777(!), according to this press release. The virtual world just gets curiouser and curiouser.
Microsoft is getting in on the social networking space as well, announcing late last night [press release] that it’s creating a new start-up in Silicon Valley called Wallop Inc., which is headed by longtime entrepreneur Karl Jacob. Though the Wallop site already has a useless animated cube on it (is there any better Microsoft branding than that?), the description of what’s to be developed there sounds interesting — if not entirely desirable:
Launching later this year, Wallop . . . will introduce an entirely new way for consumers to express their individuality online. For example, today’s social networks have difficulty enabling people to interact in a way similar to the way they would in the real world. . . . Wallop departs from the friend-of-a-friend model common in all social networks today and the root of many of their problems. Instead, Wallop developed a unique set of algorithms that respond to social interactions to automatically build and maintain a person’s social network.
That cube isn’t the only thing typically Microsoft. Me, I don’t want Bill Gates or anyone else for that matter automatically building and maintaining my social network. Continue reading →
Microsoft technical evangelist Robert Scoble has a long and very perceptive post on his blog (and on WebProNews, via Glitchy) that’s mostly about how Microsoft can become a leaner, kinder and gentler technology machine, and take away the “karmic power” of the blogger known as “Mini-Microsoft” (who is not a fan of the company). What interests me more about the post, however, is how Scoble characterizes the generation that’s just about to enter high school. He calls it “the Second Life generation” — although readers of this blog know it better as the 3pointD generation. I’m not sure if even Scoble realizes just how 3pointD they’re going to be, though. Continue reading →
Besides showing up on the cover of Business Week, Second Life has recently begun attracting the kind of people that could not only draw many more residents to the virtual world, but who could also draw major technology companies and other developers in, which could lead to a paradigm shift in what’s happening on the SL Grid.
“It’s crack for my brain,” says former MTV VJ Adam Curry, on a recent podcast. Curry — who has bought a castle in SL and wants to retire there — seems to have gotten the place immediately, describing at as “a platform.” Microsoft‘s Robert Scoble, who’s also been poking around SL lately, goes further, describing the place as an operating system. Leo Laporte of This Week in Tech, the most popular podcast on the Web, has also been avatarized lately (under the great name Pruneface Spatula), and is equally excited. What’s important here is that these guys, for the most part, see the world not as a fantasy realm that’s just good for getting your freak on (despite Laporte’s fascination with nude skins), but as a place where powerful development is possible. Continue reading →
A new mapping service has now gone live on YellowPages.com that allows users looking up businesses to map their locations using Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, according to this press release. You can see maps, satellite views and low-angle “birds-eye” views, where available, get directions, and even search by distance from a particular address, which is nice. The search function feels a bit wonky and I had trouble finding anything with birds-eye available, but note that, as the press release read, “In March 2006, the YELLOWPAGES.COM Network reached 27.3 million monthly unique users.” Who will now be mapping things via MS Virtual Earth.
Business Week is running a Second Life package in its current issue — a cover story, no less, complete with podcast. The package starts here, and of course features Anshe Chung, the world’s most famous real-estate magnate, whose avatar is plastered across the magazine’s cover. Though the piece calls the SL scene “seriously weird,” it’s also one of the first to take the business aspect of VWs seriously, including mention of Microsoft‘s Robert Scoble’s interest in SL, and, unfortunately, the $100,000 purchase of a space station in Project Entropia, now Entropia Universe that turned out to have been made by someone working for the company. All in all, though, it’s good, balanced, recommended reading.
The LA Times reports that Microsoft will be sponsoring the World Cyber Games [<-- annoying music] through 2008, making Windows and the Xbox360 the official platforms of what bills itself as the "world's largest computer and video game festival." This will no doubt help push the visibility of gaming as a pro sport, but I wonder what impact it will have on the Cyberathelete Professional League, which has been around at least as long. With Microsoft leveraging its weight to box out other consoles, it seems there’s still room for some PlayStation or other kind of competition elsewhere — although almost all pro gaming takes place on PC. In any case, this could be a coup on Microsoft’s part to put the XBox360 into ever more hands. Hopefully, it won’t water down events like this.