Daden Limited has just released the results of their Immersive Training Authoring Tools survey, trying to figure out who is using immersive environments for training purposes and how they’re doing it. Not surprisingly, Education was the biggest sector but the tools they use were a bit surprising.
Nearly 47% of the respondents were from education, 15% from the health professional training sector and interestingly 19% were from the corporate sector – especially as there’s little sign of a significant uptake of immersive training in that area. Second Life, OpenSim and Unity were the top three platforms and Second Life, despite the removal of the educational discount, dominates still with 39% respondents using it.
Not all that surprised to see Second Life at the top, given it’s existing infrastructure and multiuser environment. I was surprised, however, to see Unity in there. Unity is a great tool (I’ve even started using it myself just for experience), but not one I would typically think of for immersive environments.
If you’ll be in the Portland, Oregon area this March, maybe you should consider stopping by the Marquam Hill Campus of the Oregon Health & Science Universith for the IEEE Virtual World Symposium where they’ll be demonstrating the use of 3D virtual environments in a variety of areas.
The purpose of this symposium is introduce 1) present tutorials and examples of usage of a selected virtual social environment, Second Life®, which is being used by the IEEE® professional organization to educate, communicate, and promote membership collaboration, present examples of Second Life and other virtual worlds being used in a wider range of engineering fields such as architecture, mechanical design, corporate group meetings, 2) present a keynote address by an IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Society Distinguished Lecturer on research topics in the area of virtual social environments and multi-player gaming, and, 3) host a “geekfest” event with presentations demonstrating wide-ranging universe of virtual worlds, applications, tools, and situations.
Update 1/26 10am: An eagle-eyed commenter pointed out my inability to parse dates, this is actually last year’s Virtual World Symposium. This year’s symposium is in Southern California, details here.
Now this is impressive. Sand Castle Studios has a Second-Life creation called “The Virtual Mind” which strives to educate the public on the importance and dangers of mountain-top removal coal mines, coal fired power production, and alternative energies. Done as part of a documentary film called “Deep Down”, the project has now been nominated for an Emmy Award for New Approaches to News & Documentary Programming.
“We are so honored to be singled out in our industry and recognized for the Virtual Mine with this Emmy nomination,” said Kimberly Winnington (SL:Gianna Borgnine), Chief Executive Officer of Sand Castle Studios, LLC. “This nomination is a proud achievement, and a testament to all of the incredible hard work put in by our very talented team including myself, William Reed Seal-Foss (Content Creation) and Karl Stiefvater (Software Engineer). It also solidifies how powerful virtual worlds are as way to connect with others, examine problems, and participate in activities in order to learn more about them in a way that might not otherwise be possible.”
Signs are popping up around the internet that things may not be all well in Linden Labs, as they seem to be undergoing some rather extensive layoffs. While still very speculative and based on social networks, rumors, and scattered reports, the sum of this points to some rather depressing news.
Most or all of the team that engineered the Second Life Enterprise product was let go not long after it went into production.
Linden Lab’s country manager for Germany is gone (Germany is an important market, traditionally being Second Life’s second largest national market).
At this moment, our information is far from complete but it’s a pretty good bet that if you’re a part of the Lab”s market-development or business-development groups, you’re already clearing out your desk this week. Just how deep the cuts are going to go is uncertain at present. Apparently, it isn’t a good time to be a product evangelist on the Lab staff.
With any luck, this is just an unfortunate ‘trimming of the fat’ to create a leaner & better focused organization. We’ll just have to wait and see.
A Linden press release that just hit the press wires confirm the layoffs will be 30% of Linden Lab staff. The restructured company will focus on integrating Second Life with social networks (a move that’s been happening for some time), and creating “a browser-based virtual world experience, eliminating the need to download software”. That announcement has been long overdue. It’s only sad it comes with the job loss of so many talented people.
They also have a list of some of the people let go, including some well-known and well-loved Linden Lab celebrities.
Linden Labs and Second Life have long held that all content created in the world is the sole property of the creator (or owner, once sold) and much of the early press material backed this up. As such, thousands (millions?) of people have set up business operating in world selling clothes, buildings, and real-estate to new Second-Lifers. However, Linden recently instituted a new licensing agreement that jeopardizes this long-held claim, and is now the subject of a Class-Action lawsuit against Linden.
But “at an unknown date ” the suit says Linden began removing references to ownership from its website and began characterizing Second Life users as having “a license to computing resources ” not actual ownership of virtual terrain. A new Second Life user contract took effect Friday. It specifies that “virtual land is available for purchase or distribution at Linden Lab s discretion” and that “Linden Lab may revoke the virtual land license at any time without notice refund or compensation.”
The plaintiffs hope this will be the landmark case in virtual rights, and proof of how the internet is pervading every aspect of our lifes. I personally think their claims may be a bit overblown, as the actual text in the new EULA reads:
Linden Lab may revoke the Virtual Land License at any time without notice, refund or compensation in the event that: (i) Linden Lab determines that fraud, illegal conduct or any other violations of these Terms of Service or other Second Life policies is associated with the holder’s Account or Virtual Land; or (ii) the holder becomes delinquent on any of that user’s Account’s payment requirements, ceases to maintain an active Account or terminates this Agreement.
The real problem seems to be that Linden has the ability to change these terms at any time. It’s a bit of a “slippery slope” argument, but held up through this statement only 2 paragraphs down:
You agree that Linden Lab has the right to manage, regulate, control, modify and/or eliminate such Virtual Land as it sees fit and that Linden Lab shall have no liability to you based on its exercise of such right.
Linden Labs has just released the economic results from the first quarter of 2010, and the results are astounding. The biggest number is a 30% increase year-to-year in User-to-User transactions, totalling US$160 Million . Add in xStreet sales of US$2.3Million, an 82% increase over last year and 24% increase over last quarter, and an all-time high of unique users at 826,214. What’s leading to the new buzz? Several things actually:
The popularity of the world-wide blockbuster movie Avatar had a positive impact on the quarter. The movie made the concept of an avatar understood around the world, and introduced the word “avatar” into common usage. In addition, the success of the 3D effects in the film, supported by the advent of 3D televisions and the increase in theatrical venues and releases capable of displaying 3D content, have created a halo effect around 3D immersion. As a result, searches and organic traffic to Second Life web properties increased in the quarter.
In addition, Valentines Day was the single largest day ever on the Xstreet marketplace, and several new programs from Linden to attract users (affiliate programs, advertising, and new engagement campaigns). Things are looking good for Second Life.
In a surprising move, the US Air Force will now be providing all new military recruits with Second Life virtual avatars that will travel with them through their entire military career.
“Everyone who comes into the Air Force will be given an avatar, and that avatar travels with them, grows with them, changes appearance with them,” Larry Clemons, of the Air Education and Training Command, told the magazine. “It will provide them a history of where they’ve been and a notion of where they’re going.”
The Air Force has been running an inworld program called “MyBase” since 2008, but the hope is to provide clubs, chapels, classes, review materials, and even pre-deployment exercises in-world.
“If this is truly effective, it will become a way of life,” Clemons said. “It will be the way the Air Force does business.” Not only this, but with recruitment levels declining, the Force sees MyBase as a way to reach a younger demographic, as noted in the 2008 proposal for MyBase to become a legitimate part of the Air Force.
It’s been 3 months since you tuned in to see me on The 1st Question, but tonight Pooky has scored another pair of impressive guests: Boonsri Dickinson of tech|startups, and the CEO of Linden Labs himself Mark Kingdon.
No doubt Mark Kingdon (known as M Linden inworld) will be sporting the best SL can offer, but Boonsri had a bit more difficulty getting started:
I’m not a Second Life person — I spend enough time in front of the computer as it is. But Pooky helped me create an avatar so I could participate in her show.
Thankfully, Linden Labs is working to improve the new user experience, so hopefully stories like this will become less common. No doubt Kingdon’s appearance will draw a huge crowd, so get there early if you want a seat!
If you read “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” as a child and found your mind ablaze with visions of the underwater mechanical wonders that filled the Nautilus, then fire up your SecondLife viewer and travel to see the astonishing ‘Nemo’ created by Sextan Shepard. Full of amazing details, working gears and clocks, and a startling level of geometric complexity, it’s guaranteed to reinvigorate your love for Steampunk Mechanation.
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