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Audio from the Virtual Worlds Session@PICNIC Amsterdam


Thanks to my collegue Frank, here after all the audio of the Virtual Worlds Session

Platform virtual worlds launched in the Netherlands


 A few days ago a new initiative was launched in the Netherlands called Platform Virtuele Werelden (Platform Virtual Worlds). Its an initiative of EPN, a Dutch research institute and has the goal to gain and spread knowledge about virtual worlds and its possibilities to companies, governments, media and a wide audience in general. Also they strive to define and understand the meaning of virtual worlds and 3d spaces to society.

The platform is formed by a consortion of companies and universities, including Technical University Delft, University of Amsterdam, University of Twente, Erasmus University Rotterdam, ING Bank, ABN AMRO Bank, Philips and the City of Zoetermeer.

A very good initiative showing that virtual worlds are taken seriously and that those major institutes and companies were not blinded by the post-hype depression we seemed to be in the past few months.  ;)

Metaverse 1.0: Setting the standards


Last week I spoke with Jean Gelissen, Senior Director Strategic Partnerships at Philips Research about the Metaverse 1.0 project. I have combined the notes of this meeting with the information I took from the project presentation.

Metaverse 1.0 is a project developed within the framework of ITEA, a strategic pan-European programme for advanced pre-competitive R&D in software for Software-intensive Systems and Services. Metaverse 1.0 has the purpose to set global standards among real and virtual worlds and bridging the gaps within virtual worlds and between virtual and real worlds.

Metaverse 1.0 is an initiative of Yesha Sivan, an Israelean entrepreneur and professor at the Tel Aviv University. Metaverse 1.0 is pushed by the Metaverse 1.0 consortium, which includes over 40 participants of large and small/medium enterprises as well as several research institutes and universities from 8 participating countries. Among the participants are Philips Research, Philips Design, Forthnet, Alcatel-Lucent, Telefonica I&D, Siemens IT, Barco, Geosim Systems Ltd., Technical University Eindhoven, Utrecht University, Technical University of Twente, Fraunhofer Rostock, Nazuka and Bertelsmann. IBM will also be involved in the next phases.

The Metaverse1.0 project will provide a standardized global framework enabling the interoperability between Virtual worlds (as for example Second Life, World of Warcraft, IMVU, Google Earth and many others) and the Real world (sensors, actuators, vision and rendering, social and welfare systems, banking, insurance, travel, real estate and many others). Currently the consortium is also talking to ISO, the International Organization of Standardisation. (more…)

Sony Home @ E-Day Rotterdam (incl video of the beta version)


In the past months we have already been able to get some insight in Sony’s coming virtual world Home. It seems they will launch Home somewhere around 14 October. On 13 September, Folkert Langeveld, marketing Manager Playstation Benelux, gave a presentation about Home at E-Day in Rotterdam (where we are based btw!) and gave us some more details.

Home will be completely in HD, free of use for PS3 users and mainly focused on interaction, gaming and competition. Home will offer a game room where residents can play minigames and a variety of public spaces like a cinema where film and trailers s in HD will be screened. Also, residents will have their own private apartments they can decorate themselves with a variety of (preset) objects. Residents can launch and download PS games from within Home and play against eachother. In Home, residents wiill have a PSP that they can use to control their environment, change your looks and upload pictures from your harddrive to hang them on the wall of your virtual apartment.

Langeveld pointed out that Home will be a controlled environment. As for now, there is not so much users can create themselves, even though he pointed out that “the creation of games is more and more influenced by the users and users will have more and more influence on the games”.

Sony is planning connect offline sales to the online world. Think of buying clothing in a fysical shop that has a barcode attached, with which it can be brought into the virtual world. Sony will allow external brands to advertise within Home and to offer custom and sponsored events. Residents can buy products through the PS Store and Sony is considering to offer a consumer-to-consumer marketplace in Home.

With millions of sales of the previous game consoles Sony ofcourse has a potential great user base for Home. By bringing together games, film and music in a social environment, this could just very well boost the sales of the console but moreover of the games they’re going to offer for download. The graphics and movements look amazing, so this will be tough competition for Second Life and the likes. The fact that it will be a very much controlled environment with (as far as I can see) hardly any possibilities for resentents to create their own content, I am sure that the possibilities for self expression, creativity and community building in Second Life for example will stay very appealing to a lot of users.

Here a video of the presentation where Langeveld showed the beta version of Home live (its a bit dark unfortunately)

Sony Home@E-Day Rotterdam

(video by

Heres another video, same presentation, different camera angle :)

Warner Bros. Entertainment will launch their own Virtual World: T-Works


 After Mattel, Daimler-Chrystler, Viacom, Disney and many others, Warner Brothers will also launch their own virtual world called T-Works. T-Works will bring together all of the key characters from the Studios animations in an immersive online environment. Think Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera and DC Comics.

According to the press release, T-Works will offer fans tools for self-expression and personalization in order to “brand” their digital lives anywhere on the Web. They can “incorporate a custom avatar into their lives, whether it’s on T-Works or utilized in the participant’s digital world (MySpace, Facebook, etc.).”

Some other features T-Works will offer:

  • Immersive virtual worlds where users interact with each other and assume a cartoon identity based on existing characters
  • Video channel featuring hundreds of hours of animations and series
  • A personalization channel to serve all aspects of fans digital lives from customizing social networking profiles, portable widgets, desktop applications and more
  • A games channel with over 125 games featuring never-before-seen character match-ups
  • Video Mash-Up Maker where users can create and share their own cartoon remixes
  • A reward system that gives points for all activity that the user does both within the virtual worlds and throughout the site

Now that is ofcourse a major player to enter the Virtual Worlds market, Warner Bros obviously has some prety good cards in their hands with their rich base of wellknown characters and cartoons. Some tough competition for Disney here. (more…)

Linden Lab releases Second Life Grid


Today, Linden Lab launched the SecondLifeGrid website, a resource for businesses, organizations and educators for creating a successful virtual presence on the Second Life Grid platform. Second Life is and will remain focused on Residents, but virtual world technology also has a lot to offer to organizations – educators, enterprises, brands, nonprofits, and others – and the Second Life Grid will enable these organizations to understand and create meaningful 3D immersive experiences. Through new programs like the Community Gateway Program and the Global Provider Program, Linden Lab will provide guidance and support for local and international organizations interested in maximizing their participation in the virtual world of Second Life.

The website is clearly focused on those who are interested in a corporate presence, creating clarity in what kind of opportunities presence in virtual worlds can offer for marketing, communication and collaboration. The good thing is that the site offers a lot of information about how to do business in Second Life, ranging from basic info about buying land to a range of business cases and succes stories. Also it offers some good resources about programs, APIs and source code. Considering the recent negative publicity I think its good to have a central point for information about business in Second Life. I am not sure if it can turn the posthype ‘panic’ (well at least thats how it is back here in the Netherlands, its actuatlly not panic, just complete silence). I feel we need much more showcases of intelligent branding, collaboration and experience. That is also the problem with a lot of the cases they present: some good Fortune500 names but where are for example The Greenies or the Weather Channel?

Read the official blogpost here 

Philips starts sourcing crowds



Today I visited the first gathering of the Philips Design Group. Already since a couple of months Philips has been active in Second Life. They are developing an island that unfortunately is still closed for public. On the islands of ING Banks “Our Virtual Holland“, Philips build a few open air meeting areas where they started with there first steps of ‘crowd sourcing‘.

The discussion touched three subjects:

  • the future of packaging
  • the future of clothing
  • the future of self expression

After an introduction (more…)

HiPiHi announces global strategy


The new Chinese 3D  virtual world HiPiHi already received quite some press coverage recently. I have not been able to run HiPiHi untill now, but still interesting to read about their global strategy announced in Singapore (reported on Virtual World News). Also they confirmed their strategic investors, including NGI group.

There are three parts involved in HiPiHi’s global strategy.

  • First, HiPiHi will cooperate with global leaders in the Internet and communication industry to establish a set of relevant hardware and software standards for the development of the 3D platform.
  • Second, HiPiHi will cooperate with other major 3D virtual worlds to finalize these standards, and bring the possibility for users to interact and transact between different virtual worlds.
  • Lastly, HiPiHi will actively build its “Global Market Partnership Project”, “Third Party Developer Project” and “Community Partnership Project”, to establish a HiPiHi virtual world global value chain.


Another toybased world for Kids:


 Yesteray I already wrote about the flood of new online worlds, this morning i read the pressrelease of MGA Entertainment, maker of Bratz and, announcing its second toy-based virtual world: Rescue Pets: Its based on the same model that Webkinz uses: buy a real toy and receive a code that gives you credits or other benefits in the virtual world. With Rescue Pets, users buy plush toys in the store and receive a code written on the dogs bone. Each pet has its own, completely private room, and there is  public space in the town square’s arcade where you can earn credits to buy more items for your pet and room. Users are responsible for keeping their pet healthy. Like other kids worlds, users communicate with pre-set messages, in open text messaging with approved friends, or completely free communication.

So kids, more pets to play with! (more…)

Sky News challenges residents to bring news



Since a couple of months Sky News has presence in Second Life. Yesterday I discovered on their website that they launched a “Be a virtual news reporter” challenge. If you as SL resident feel you have a newsworthy story, you can submit your news reports (in the form of a machinima) to Sky News for use on their web site - and if the item is really good the virtual report may end up on UK TV. For this, Sky News has a virtual newsroom in Second Life where you can pick up the necessary tools for your broadcast, like a Sky News microphone and notecards explaining how to create a machinima.

An interesting project, because it not only shows that traditional news services are extending their real life commitment to citizen journalism into SL, it also shows how you can involve an online community (ie an audience) with your brand(ing).

Watch the promotional machinima here

Sony Home to Feature User-Generated Content and Sales



Virtual World News pointed me at some interesting news about Sony Home. At the Edinburgh Interactive Festival, the director of the Sony Home group announced that “In the longer term, users will be able to share other content that they have created: photos and videos themselves and user-generated content tools such as their own t-shirt designs. We’ll also be giving out tools to allow scripting, java minigames and so on.” Now recently boh the new (but unreleased) platform Twinity and Doppelganger announced that their platforms would be much more controlled than lets say Second Life. Users can publish own content in their private environments and create items and objects, but certainly public environments will be controlled. (more…)

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