22 April 2021

Daden Newsletter April 2021

 Our April Newsletter is out. In this issue:

  • A Virtual Experience Design Space (VEDS)VEDS is a new publicly and freely available space we've created in Mozilla Hubs for you and us to use to help think through and collaborate on the design decisions associated with a 3D virtual experience - whilst being inside a 3D/VR virtual world!
  • Wonderland  - Having looked at the range of SocialVR spaces out there we're now looking at WebXR authoring tools - this issue we take Wonderland out for a test-drive.
  • Daden Hub - Daden Hub is effectively our virtual office in MozillaHubs - somewhere for us to meet clients and show them what Hubs can do - and feel free to check it out yourself. We've also linked it to (and from) a virtual onboarding experience we've built for Hubs to act as a walk-through tutorial on how to use Hubs.
  • Plus some interesting papers that caught our eye on AI, chatbots and knowledge graphs (and which are coming from a similar to our own R&D); and links to three interviews/panel sessions that David has given over the last few months on chatbots and Virtual Humans.

We hope you enjoy the newsletter, and do get in touch if you would like to discuss any of the topics raised in the newsletter, or our products and services, in more detail!

You can read the Newsletter here.

22 March 2021

360 Photos in Mozilla Hubs


Been experimenting a bit with 360 photos in Mozilla Hubs. They are just part of an empty room, so you can add 3D objects "inside" the photo, although without any scripting you can't create hot-spots as such. You could though add links from one to another - but on its own that's not a smooth transition.

What does work well though is the ability for the room owner to load scenes around the participants, so you can do an immersive slideshow, everyone starting in one place, and then load a 360 around them, and then another one and so on. If you added a map or 3D table model like the one below you could end up doing quite a nice human-guided field trip/battlefield tour/holiday slideshow.

The photosphere shots here are ones I took on my iPhone at the base of Uluru, and apart from a few glitches at the joins they come out pretty well in Hubs.

Of course the nice thing about using Hubs for something like this is that its very social and involving - everyone sees the same image at the same time, can see and talk to others, and naturally tends to move around the space towards the bits of the photo they are interested in so larger groups naturally fragment to smaller groups if desired - which with spatial audio enables lots of parallel conversations to go on.

And here's more of a heritage/built environment shot from Hougoumont Farm on battlefield of Waterloo.

Just get in touch if you've got a good idea of how you might be able to use this approach to 360Vr in your teaching/training/education/out-reach.

17 March 2021

IORMA Webinar: Chatbots, Virtual Humans and Consumers

Daden MD David Burden took part in the panel at last week's IORMA Consumer Commerce Centre webinar on Chatbots, Virtual Humans and Consumers. The webinar is available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/sPZQAvale1I:

As well as David there is some great expertise on creating lifelike avatars using some of the latest Hollywood derived technology, and also on the use of speech recognition and NLP to detect anxiety and truthfulness. It's a wide ranging and dynamic conversation and well worth an hour of your time!

15 March 2021

David Burden on the Dr Zero Show

Daden MD David Burden was interviewed about virtual worlds and virtual reality on the Dr Zero YouTube show hosted by Serdar Temiz over the weekend. David's piece starts at 34:42

25 February 2021

Introducing Daden Hub - Daden's new virtual home in Mozilla Hubs


We've just launched Daden Hub - Daden's virtual home in Mozilla Hubs. 

This 3D environment lets you find out about Daden and what we do, play with some of the Mozilla Hubs tools, and follow teleports to some of our other builds in Mozilla Hubs. 

We are increasingly using it instead of Zoom for some of our internal meetings, and don't be surprised if we invite you into it for external meetings too!

You can visit Daden Hub now in 2D or VR at https://hubs.mozilla.com/SJy5Hwn/daden-hub

Here's a short video giving you a tour of the Hub.

Give us a shout if you'd like to meet up in the space and get a more personal demo!

19 February 2021

A Tale of Two Venues - AI/SF and Wrestling in VR!


Last night I attended a fascinating discussion on put on Science Fiction, Tech, and Games by GamesBeat/VentureBeat. It touched on loads of topics of interest like AI, Virtual Sentience, Digital Immortality and whether NPCs should have free will (shades of a recent Richard Bartle talk). What matters for this post though is that although the event was streamed on Zoom I attended it in the beta of Oculus Venues in VR.

I went to the Oculus Quest2 launch event in an earlier Beta, and it was OK but very basic, just move your avatar to a row of cinema seats and sit there. So what has changed?

You start with an avatar design session in your own room (not much choice of anything, but just enough to minimise identikit avatars), and then some very basic movement and interaction instruction. There is a very nice menu UI on your inside wrist which opens up to give you access to the main tools. You can navigate either by a local teleport method (move a circle to where you want to go) or free physical/joystick-based movement.

When you leave the room and new space loads and you enter the Venues atrium.

There's space for I think about 8 "suites", 4 down each side. I don't know how shared this is. My venue had the poster outside and declared  38 attendees.

Entering the suite another space loads. I say "suite" as there is a ground level space and a balcony space, both looking out to a big 2D screen where the Zoom relay was - 3 talking head webcams.

Now as an event experience it was pretty poor. The difference between the 3D/avatar us a 2D/video them is big. I know you might pick up less nuances if they were avatars but at least it would feel more like a seminar than a cinema. And if you were on Zoom you could ask questions by chat, but there was no chat facility in VR (and without a Bluetooth keyboard typing questions would be a pain). Also the lack of chat meant that there was no side channel between the attending avatars - amplifying points, sharing links, getting to know each other. If someone tried to talk to you it just got in the way of the presentation - just as in the physical world. I know I keep saying it but c.2010 Second Life events felt far better.

Unfortunately the Venues screenshot camera doesn't show the video content!

The other big issue were my co-attendees. I know I'm the only person on the ground level who was there from beginning to end. Maybe a handful of others were there for 20mins plus. I'd say peak occupancy was a dozen, more often half that. Most of the people though were there to play and have fun, several were kids (mics on whole time, talking over the presenters etc), and were just having a laugh. Imaging trying to attend a seminar whilst a group of tweens charges through. Luckily at least one group decided to "take the party upstairs" and when I checked in at the end the balcony certainly seemed busier - but that was after the talk finished.

So not convinced.

On my way out I decided to check out the other suites. Only one was in use with 24hr Wrestling. Same layout. But a couple of big differences.

First, the video was 360 style, in fact I think it was even stereoscopic, so it really did feel like you were ringside watching the fight. It filled the whole of the space in front of you, and had a real sense of depth.

Second, as there was no commentary as such, it was just the fight, all the avatars chatting, shouting and fooling around with the cameras and confetti was all appropriate for the event - everyone was ringside!

The Wrestling crowd - not that you can tell with no video!

So I hadn't expected that a Wrestling event would beat an SF/Tech/Games event as a good demo of using VR for events - but it did. Just goes you need to think about the complete experience when looking at how to use VR (and immersive 3D) for different kinds of events.

18 February 2021

NASA's Perseverance Rover in Mozilla Hubs


What better way to celebrate the (hopefully successful) landing of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars than by looking at it in Mozilla Hubs!

NASA wonderful model library at https://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/ not only has a nice model of Perseverance but its also a) a reasonable size and b) in the .glb format preferred by WebXR apps likeHubs - this is great news if NASA is now standardising on this format. The model is about 4x the recommended Hub size, so mobiles may have issues, but it loads in 20s or so.

As this is a quick build we've just dropped the model into our existing "mars-like" terrain. We checked it for scale and it looks pretty much spot on. We've not added any interpretation boards - we may do that later. 

If you're in VR then you can have great fun getting on your hands and knees to look under the rover - although we couldn't spot Ingenuity.

The model is at: https://hubs.mozilla.com/o3c26nJ/perseverance-mars-rover with a room code of 817861 if you're using a headset.

Remember that since this is WebXR you can just click immediately on the link above to go to Mars in your browser, no need to download or register, and it works with or without a VR headset.

Have fun, and do let us know how you get on in the comments and/or post images on Social Media and share with friends.

And don't forget to also check out our SpaceX Starship Hub room to look at the next generation of Mars spacecraft. That's at https://hubs.mozilla.com/SMUKcDy/starship-test

Update: Here's a video of the rover from inside our VR headset: