Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jibe 1.5 and Unity 4

Over the past months we've been busy working on several development projects for clients, and in each project we have had the chance to expand on our Jibe platform. The upcoming release of Jibe 1.5 will incorporate many of the features we have developed, and we will be ensuring that the release will be 100% compatible with the newly released Unity 4 editor.

Planned features for Jibe 1.5 include:


  • Room variable support
  • Photon 3 & Photon Cloud support
  • Improved avatar pipeline to enable wider range of custom avatars
  • Reduced requirement for naming conventions for avatar outfits when customizing appearance options
  • Animations can have any name, and are mapped to known animation states via a simple script set up in the Inspector (makes it much easier to grab animations from places like the Mixamo store to add simple gestures to your avatars)
  • Appearance maps can support model, hair and outfit choices out of the box, the goal is to move towards a more extensible system
  • Storage and retrieval of avatar dressing choices for Jibe Mars customers for future implementation of immediate login of pre-dressed avatars.
  • Simplified networking scripts for position updates of objects
  • Recategorized Jibe scripts in Unity hierarchy for clearer organization
  • Increased flexibility on login process
  • Change from three scripts (ChooseAvatar, DressingRoom, SingleSceneConfiguration) for choosing avatars and logging in, to one single simplified script (JibeLogin)
  • Combine Loader and Dressing room concepts into a Login scene where you can choose all outfit choices on login. 
  • Or you can change which scene is the first in the build order and log in directly to the main scene where the activity will take place
  • Dedicated dressing room can be reached from any other scene in the build and should return you to the last known location
  • Extra sample scripts for more common functionality (such as taking screenshots from inworld)
  • Spatial audio support for Vivox voice on web player builds
  • Chat history plus ability to chat from the webpage (removing the need to have the chat textbox on screen all the time while inworld)
  • Single player mode for offline testing - extremely useful for debugging while not connected, or for doing a demo from behind a tight firewall
  • Improved event tracking scripts for capturing additional information about user interactions
  • Improved tracking of Account UUID (Unique Identifier for a logged in user) for use within websites where tracking by known ID is important. This feature enables both understanding of the current ID of the player from the multiplayer server perspective and from a user-maintained system.
  • 100% C# codebase with final scripts converted from Javascript.
  • Updated Jibe manual with full information on each of the new features in the platform!
We've also updated our Jibe Web Suite for our hosted and behind firewall server customers to include a rich administration site and support for groups and role based permissions to give you more control over access to your Jibe worlds. We're rolling this out to all our existing clients (it is compatible with 1.4.2 as well as 1.5) - let us know if you would like to apply for a priority upgrade by dropping us a note to our ticket system at http://metaverseheroes.com

Jibe 1.5 will be coming out as soon as we finish our QA testing. In the meantime, customers who are eager to try out Unity 4 should do so with caution until we can isolate any potential issues with the new editor and have approved the use and support of the new editor, and any issues that the pioneers of you may find please contribute your findings to our Jibe-Unity Google Group! If there are any significant issues with Jibe 1.4.2 and Unity 4 we will provide updated project kits to customers as soon as we can.





Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Speaking at "Train for Success" Panel on the Future of Virtual Worlds - Nov 8 @ noon Eastern


The Gronstedt Group hosts a weekly "Train for Success" speaking series, and this week I'll be participating in a panel discussion on the State and Future of Virtual Worlds.

The panel will be held in Second Life and starts on Thursday November 8 at noon Eastern.  You can also watch and ask questions via the live stream on the web.  

For more details, please see Facebook.  Here's a summary:
"The landscape of virtual worlds is changing. Social and game mechanics make virtual worlds more engaging. Browser-based virtual worlds make them more accessible to a wider audience. The panel will discuss the state and future of virtual worlds. Join this conversation about the emerging platforms and applications of virtual worlds in learning and business." 
Hope to see you there, and special thanks to Anders Gronstedt for inviting me to participate.

-John "Pathfinder" Lester
Chief Learning Officer, ReactionGrid

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Online Presentation at Agile Worlds 2012

I'll be giving a presentation today (Wednesday October 3rd) at 8pm Eastern as part of the Agile Worlds 2012 Online Conference.

My topic will be "Integrated Reality and Next Generation Virtual Worlds." Here's detailed info on my session.

Please feel free to visit my Agile Worlds Jibe space at 8pm if you'd like to attend.  Hope to see you there!


UPDATE 10/4/21: Here's a video recording of the event.



-John "Pathfinder" Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid, Inc

Friday, September 28, 2012

Building Immersion through Simple Design: Visit a Meteor Shower in Jibe

Anyone can create an exciting immersive experience in a multiuser 3d virtual world platform like Jibe.

It doesn't have to be complicated.

And it doesn't require loads of money and development time.

The trick is to follow a few simple design rules.




Friday, September 14, 2012

Learn more about the Jibe platform on ReactionGrid's new website

After much work by the entire team, ReactionGrid's new website is now live!


Visit the new site to learn more about how people and organizations are using the Jibe platform to create interactive multiuser 3D experiences that capture the imagination.

And if you have any feedback about the new design and layout, please leave us a comment.

-The ReactionGrid Team

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Video of panel on "Virtual Worlds Revisited" at the 2012 Chicago eLearning and Technology Showcase

I recently participated in a wonderful “Virtual Worlds Revisited” panel discussion as part of the Chicago eLearning and Technology Showcase.  The panel was organized and moderated by Mike Kemmler, and participants included virtual world innovators Anders Gronstedt , Mark Jankowski and Karl Kapp.

The panel was held in Second Life, but the focus of our discussion was firmly on the future of new virtual world platforms and new modalities for immersive learning. We were projected into the physical world meeting room in Chicago where about 30 people attended in person. Here’s a summary:
Still deeply entrenched in Gartner’s Trough of Disillusionment, is it time to revisit virtual worlds?  Mike Kemmler hosts a virtual panel discussion via Second Life with a distinguished group of virtual world innovators, presenters, consultants, and authors, including Anders Gronstedt, Mark Jankowski, Karl Kapp, and John “Pathfinder” Lester. Panelists address the current state of learning in virtual worlds, explain platforms they see organizations using for immersive learning, and discuss current challenges and future possibilities of using virtual worlds for learning.
Thanks again, Mike, for this great opportunity.  It was an honor to be on a panel with such a stellar group of pioneers in virtual worlds and immersive learning.

NOTE: The audio from Second Life is bit choppy for the first 30 seconds, but then clears up perfectly for the rest of the video.

-John "Pathfinder" Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid Inc.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Speaking at the Academic Librarians 2012 Conference - Syracuse University, June 12-13

I've been invited to attend and speak at the Academic Librarians 2012 Conference at Syracuse University from June 12-13.  This conference will be a great opportunity to connect with folks interested in building the future of immersive learning and information literacy.  Here's a description from the conference website:
Value. Learning. Technology. Librarianship.  As with all libraries and organizations, we must constantly demonstrate our value to our stakeholders amidst the changes brought on us at an increasing rate by the technology that we and our students use.  Technology shapes our interactions with others, our learning techniques and styles, and our pedagogy; it can affect the way our value is perceived. This year’s conference explores value, community, collaboration, social awareness, and applications that enhance learning. How do we demonstrate the value of the academic library in this changing information environment? How do we reach and teach our students? How is information literacy being transformed? Is it possible to game to learn or learn to game? What is the new librarianship?
The topic of my presentation will be "Intersections of the Future: Gaming Technology, Virtual Worlds and the Web."  Here's a summary of what I'll be talking about:
John will share his experiences using gaming technology and virtual world platforms to augment education. He will discuss future trends in specific gaming technologies such as Unity3d as well as ReactionGrid's Jibe platform, a multiuser virtual world system that works on the web and with mobile devices. John will also explain common pitfalls when exploring virtual world technologies and highlight the unique affordances of virtual worlds when they are interwoven with existing social media and web-based educational content. 
Thanks again to Mary-Carol Lindbloom, Executive Director of the South Central Regional Library Council, for kindly inviting me to participate.  I'll be at all of the conference sessions, so please drop me a tweet if you're also attending and would like to connect.

See you in Syracuse!

-John "Pathfinder" Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid, Inc.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Resetting your ReactionGrid Account Password

If you're anything like me, you have a lot of account logins and passwords to remember. Occasionally, you might forget or misplace one. We understand.

Your ReactionGrid account credentials grant you access to numerous aspects of Reactiongrid operations, such as the Metaverseheroes support system, the public RG OpenSim world, and administrative control of your hosted Jibe world.

If you lost your password, resetting it is a simple matter. Just visit http://grid.reactiongrid.com/passwordreset.aspx and complete the form.

If by chance you have forgotten your account name, submit a ticket to http://metaverseheroes.helpserve.com/Tickets/Submit and provide as much of your account information as possible, including your request to reset your password.

Have a great day!

Monday, April 23, 2012

ReactionGrid's CLO John Lester presenting at Norwegian University of Science and Technology

The Department of Computer and Information Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway is hosting a seminar this week on "Virtual Worlds & Educational Technologies."

The seminar will be held on Wednesday April 25th from 11:00-14:00 CEST, and it's free and open to both staff and students.  Here's a summary of speakers and topics:
  • Associate prof. Judith Molka-Danielsen, Molde University College, Norway: Educational Use of Virtual Worlds: Review of Current Research and Initiatives for Forming Good Practices
  • Prof. Vladimir Uskov, Bradley University, USA: Computer Science and Computer Information Systems Curriculum Innovations
  • Prof. Catherine Fulford, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA: Educational technology and 3D virtual worlds at the University of Hawaii, Manoa
  • Associate prof. Mikhail Morozov, Mari State Technical University, Russia: Parallel Time and Space: Capturing Learning in 3D Virtual Worlds
  • John "Pathfinder" Lester, Chief Learning Officer, ReactionGrid Inc. (distantly from Canada): Integrated Reality and Next Generation Virtual Worlds 
All of the other speakers will be attending and presenting locally, but I'll be giving my talk online starting at 13:00 CEST (that's 7:30am EDT).  Attendees in Trondheim will be watching and listening to me on a projection screen in the lecture hall.

If you'd like to watch and listen to my talk live, go to my join.me page and then join the audio conference call.  I won't be taking any questions by voice, so please use join.me's text chat.  Here's my presentation abstract:

Integrated Reality and Next Generation Virtual Worlds: Integrated Reality is the augmentation of our way of communicating and sharing knowledge through the use of all our technological tools in a complementary way. Examples of such tools include virtual worlds, augmented reality, the web and mobile devices. Next Generation virtual worlds will be tightly coupled to many other emerging technologies such as robotics and augmented reality, and will provide platforms for much broader use among teachers and learners. This presentation provides an overview of virtual world platforms, discussing their use as immersive learning environments and future possibilities for both technological and pedagogical innovation. It will include a live tour of ReactionGrid's Jibe platform.

There are many innovative research and development projects in virtual worlds and education coming out of Scandinavia (you can learn more via the Nordic Virtual Worlds Network), so I'm very excited to be a part of this seminar.  Thanks again to Ekaterina Prasolova-Førland for inviting me to participate.


UPDATE 4/25/12: Here are my slides:

-John "Pathfinder" Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid Inc.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Using Virtual Worlds to Reduce Stress

relaxation training in a virtual world

A fascinating paper was just published on the topic of using virtual worlds to train people in stress reduction techniques.

"The Feasibility and Impact of Delivering a Mind-Body Intervention in a Virtual World"

The paper describes a pilot project using a virtual space to bring volunteers through a mind-body medical intervention. The volunteers learned how to elicit the relaxation response, a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress.  Typically, people learn how to do this in physical-world training sessions.  But in this case, they were able to use a 3d simulation in a group learning environment.

Some of the challenges they faced in the course of the project included:

"...although it is indeed feasible to present this type of program in a virtual world, the user interface is problematic. Recruitment was limited to individuals with prior experience in Second Life since the interface was known to be a barrier to entry. Even with such inclusion criteria, some of the less experienced users had problems that likely affected their participation."
 and

"...in the absence of remote sensing technology, it is very difficult to know if the participants are taking part in the exercises or successfully eliciting the relaxation response."
Our next-generation multiuser virtual world platform Jibe addresses all of these challenges.  When you set up your own Jibe world, you have complete control over the user interface and can customize/simplify it however you wish.  A Jibe world can also be embedded in any web page, which makes it as easy as possible for people to access.  And finally, we've build our Jibe platform from the ground up so that it can directly interface with remote sensing technology.

Due to the positive results from this pilot study,  Dr. Daniel B. Hoch and his team are planning to conduct further research.  It will be very exciting to see techniques like this evolve to improve the quality of life of people around the world.  And here at ReactionGrid, we'll keep building the technological platforms that can help make it all happen.

UPDATE 4/6/2012: Here's a press release about the research project from Massachusetts General Hospital with additional quotes from Dr. Hoch.

-John "Pathfinder" Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid Inc.



Friday, March 30, 2012

An Educator's Fieldtrip to Jibe

Part of the reason we do what we do is to help educators. Many of ReactionGrid's earliest and longest-running clients are educators. So, it really excites us to hear new educators exploring and utilizing our technology in the classroom. The latest story comes from Marianne Riis, PhD candidate at Aalborg University in Copenhagen, Denmark.
http://milmariis.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/great-field-trip-to-pathfinders-jibe-world/

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gametech 2012 & ReactionGrid

Today live from Gametech http://www.gametechconference.com/:

  1. An open source version of Jibe is underway officially today.  LearnNC & ReactionGrid are partnering to allow teachers and students to qualify for no cost editions of Jibe.   LearnNC will be documenting the self-hosted process for this plan and providing other support and technical improvements to Jibe.  News soon on this so you can get started with Jibe!
  2. Jibe-Enterprise is now available for corporate training, meetings, collaboration and more.  This is a template which allows for visuals and interactivity to be changed at will  via admin control panels and the Unity editor. A low cost educational version is in the works as well.
  3. Jibe-Blend is also underway.  Jibe-Blend is a real-time shared collaborative building system which allows users to model in Blender and stream their work live into a Jibe/Unity3D world.  In the video below you will see Blender's modeling view streamed to Chrome/WebGL that has been embedded within Blender.

    The video shows how you model in Blender and view in WebGL.  We have contracted with the Blender Research Lab to develop this technology to stream to the Unity3D Web Player (then mobile after) live.  We will open source this technology then integrate Jibe networking and later object persistence and placement tools in the live environment when done in Blender.

    Imagine Blender 3D developers being able to network Blender to Blender  for shared design and stream to the live Jibe/Unity3D world in real time then save and place the object inworld persistently!  Now that is a powerful real-time inworld building system that sets up the designers to use an industry standard tool to create great content.

More details in the next couple of weeks!
KyleG

Presentation at 2012 Follow the Sun: Integrated Reality and Next Generation Virtual Worlds

 

Follow the Sun 2012 is a free online conference that runs from March 27-30.  Here's a summary from their website:
"Digital Futures Institute, Beyond Distance Research Alliance, Athabasca University, and our commercial partners are proud to provide this year's 48-hour, online learning festival at no charge to all participants. The theme of this year's conference moves beyond educational technology to examine knowledge development and exchange across the disciplines."
I'll be giving an online presentation on Thursday March 29th at 2:30am EDT (yes, that's 2:30am).  The topic will be "Integrated Reality and Next Generation Virtual Worlds."

Here are my slides to give you a preview of what I'll be talking about, and I'll update this blog post with a recording of my presentation after the conference is over. 

Take care,
-John "Pathfinder" Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid Inc.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kyle Gomboy, CEO of ReactionGrid, Speaking at the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE) Conference

UPDATE 3/16/2012: Kyle is out sick today.  But John "Pathfinder" Lester (ReactionGrid's Chief Learning Officer) will be filling in for him.  The show must go on!

The 5th Annual Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE) Conference starts today and runs through Saturday.  Check out their full conference schedule.

The VWBPE conference is an opportunity for innovative educators, teachers and designers to gather on a global scale for serious discussions and feedback about what is happening in 3D virtual environments and games. 

Kyle Gomboy (CEO, ReactionGrid) will be giving a keynote presentation tomorrow, Friday March 16 at 2pm EDT.  You can attend his presentation in Second Life or tune in and watch it streamed live.

We've got a ReactionGrid booth set up in Second Life during the conference, so please stop by and visit us.


And our good friend David Deeds has a booth right next to us with lots of great information about 3d virtual worlds in K-12/International schools as well as info about his new book, a Jibe/Unity: School Quick Start Guide.


 See you inworld!

-John "Pathfinder" Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid Inc.

Vivox Server Maintenance Tues March 20 @ 5am EDT

Tuesday March 20 at 5am EDT Vivox will be performing a hardware upgrade to the ReactionGrid Vivox server.
Vivox will take the systems for voice chat down for up to 90 minutes to upgrade the underlying hardware. 
During this time, no one would be able to access voice chat.



Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts - Virtual Broad Art Museum in Jibe


The Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts (IDIA) at Ball State University is a research and design studio exploring virtual reality, simulation, games and interactive interfaces.

IDIA been commissioned to design and build a virtual presence and artworks for the upcoming Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. 

And they're building it with ReactionGrid's Jibe platform!

For more information, check out IDIA's project website.



Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid Inc.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jibe Roadmap Update


We’ve been busy bees working on several splendid projects with customers and we have produced some great features that we’re hoping to integrate into the next core Jibe release. For example:

  • Improving the pipeline for adding Jibe to an existing project, removing dependencies on Jibe-specific tags (since you can’t add tags via a Unity package!) – we’ve been experimenting with adding Jibe to a project instead of the opposite way round (adding existing builds and scenes to a Jibe project) and have discovered many angles that need to be refined to streamline the process. To be completed – Layers for cameras! Since layers are also something that can’t be updated from a package, the goal is to make the camera systems more controllable via scripts in the Inspector.
  • More flexibility on UI – making the GUI more controllable, perhaps you have a level where you don’t want users to be able to chat, or perhaps you want to remove the minimap completely.
  • Room variable support – as we’ve mentioned before this will be part of the next release, giving users a broadcast system for scene-wide events for all in a space to see.
  • Single player mode – perhaps you want avatar selection with the option to go multiplayer in future, or perhaps you want to demonstrate your Jibe build without a network connection, or perhaps you’re on a plane and would like to get some work done without an Internet connection (been there…) so we now have a non-network plugin that bypasses all requirements on having a network. You don’t get the multiplayer, but your Jibe code will still be there for testing and will run as normal.
  • Several bugfixes – little quirks that, thanks to tickets from customers and thanks to our own exploration, we have tackled that will improve things for you all.
  • Remove remaining requirements for a Dressing Room – while some folks like using the dressing room, those that use other non-Jibe avatars have asked to be able to remove the dressing room icon from the list.

There are a lot more pieces that we are pulling together, and we'll keep you informed as we get closer to release.


On top of this, with the recent upgrade to Unity 3.5 we will be working on making our bot scripts available to customers for tasks like tutorials (see our sySTEMic world's Tutorial scene for an example). The BIDI bot system uses pathfinding to navigate around as the bot helps you, and he can be programmed to follow you around. As such, we've previously had to rely on an external pathfinding library for the purpose. Now that pathfinding is built-in to Unity, we are hoping to integrate with that system, since we try to have minimal external requirements for our own tools.

If you have any feature requests or have something you really want to see in Jibe, either comment on this post or head to MetaverseHeroes for support.