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Sun Unveils Corporate ‘Second Life’

Posted by SIM on May 1, 2007

3D tool aims to improve enterprise collaboration
Tom Sanders
30 Apr 2007

Sun Microsystems has developed a prototype 3D environment that essentially mimics Second Life, but turns it into an enterprise collaboration tool.

Sun’s MPK20 virtual world allows for collaboration between employees in different locations.

Each employee is represented by an avatar that walks around in a virtual environment, communicating using internet telephony.

Plans for future updates include the ability to share applications in the virtual environment, and to link whiteboards in physical meeting rooms with the virtual space to show up in both online and offline worlds.

The application at first glance has some similarities to Second Life. But Nicole Yankelovich, a principal investigator with Sun Labs, argued that it only overlaps in the social element. “This brings the social element of Second Life into the workplace,” she said.

Current collaboration tools do not enable this degree of informal interaction, Yankelovich argued, thereby preventing remote workers from building relationships with their colleagues.

Users of MPK20 can walk up to each other and start a conversation, just like they can before a meeting in the real world. They can also walk up to two conversing avatars and join the conversation or just listen.

The name MPK20 identifies the virtual world as the 20th building at Sun’s corporate campus in Menlo Park, California. The campus has 19 physical buildings.

Sun demonstrated a first version of the virtual world last Thursday at an open day at its Sun Labs research arm.

MPK20 uses Sun’s Project Darkstar, a marketing initiative that bundles servers and software to allow companies to build a scalable infrastructure for 3D environments.

The project also uses Sun’s Project Wonderland, which provides developer tools for building 3D worlds.

MPK20 has some similarities with Project Looking Glass, an open source initiative which aims to develop a 3D desktop for computers.

Sun suggested that future 3D environments could function as the actual desktop, where users launch applications by walking their avatar to a special room or area.

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VirtualThirst.com

Posted by SIM on April 17, 2007

Coke Opens VirtualThirst.com In Second Life
by Tobi Elkin
Tuesday, Apr 17, 2007

DIVING INTO THE VIRTUAL WATERS, Coca-Cola officially entered Second Life, issuing an invitation to avatars as well as the general public to submit ideas for a portable virtual vending machine.

The design competition invites people to submit designs to http://www.virtualthirst.com for a chance to win a grand prize of building and launching the ultimate vending machine with the help of 3-D design shop Millions of Us.

Design entries will be accepted through a variety of formats and submission methods, including submissions within Second Life, YouTube and MySpace.

Submission guidelines for each and contest rules appear on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/virtualthirst, as well as on “crayonville Island” in Second Life. The entry deadline is May 25.

Coke’s initiation into Second Life was spearheaded by marketing consultancy crayon, which devised the strategy for the soft drink marketer and helped it tap an advisory council made up of Second Life residents and designers which will select the winner of the competition.

The grand-prize winner will get to introduce the virtual vending machine at an in-world party; residents will also be able to buy the machine. The Virtual Thirst contest represents Coke’s first big experiment within Second Life.

“Our goal is to enable individual creativity in pursuit of a ‘vending’ machine that can exist only in your wildest imagination,” said Michael Donnelly, director, global interactive marketing, Coke.

Donnelly said the “Virtual Thirst” platform has a lot of legs–and is something that could be extended into offline media, as well as into portable media-games, wireless and other emerging platforms.

The concept could eventually tie in to or complement Coke’s current campaign “The Coke Side of Life.” He said the Second Life play is a learning experience.

“It isn’t any kind of reach play, it’s about learning about how to better market.” And he also noted that since the relaunch of Coke.com, the brand is striving to reposition itself around self-expression and creativity.

Coke isn’t the only brand dabbling in Second Life. Boutique agency Campfire established an ongoing presence and sophisticated set of experiences more than a year ago for GM’s Pontiac brand.

Campfire came up with Pontiac’s Motorati Island, where there are participating dealers, auto enthusiast groups, live sponsored concerts, racing events and more. The tie-in with SL was designed to promote the Solstice GXP sports car. Recently, Campfire teamed with Pontiac and Leo Burnett to offer a real-world Motorati experience at the New York Auto Show; big screens at the Show offered an in-world glimpse in real-time.

At Coke, Donnelly noted that the winning design could lead to futuristic concepts of what the brand’s real-world machines will look like: “That is part of our strategy. How do we take our old world vending machines and make them relevant to our customers?”

Joe Jaffe, president, crayon, said Coke’s approach in SL is understated. Coke held a press conference in-world to announce the competition on Monday. “It’s just one event in-world–25 people attended, but it’s a seed,” Jaffe said. “Our advice was to start small and then build conversation around the small idea. That’s the long tail of creativity.”

Jaffe continued: “This is less about a Second Life project and more about being able to take the whole concept of thirst and position it as a thirst for meaning, knowledge, love, self-expression and a thirst for an experience.”

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Brazilian Airline Takes Flight In Second Life

Posted by SIM on April 12, 2007

TAM will offer avatars gifts for users to take virtual flights to islands called Milan, Paris, New York and England.
April 12 2007

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) — Brazil’s TAM said it is about to become the first airline to promote itself in the Second Life online virtual world by offering cyberspace flights that correspond to its real-world international service.

Second Life, created by U.S.-based Linden Lab, has millions of registered users and its own economy and currency, known as the Linden dollar, which can be exchanged for U.S. dollars.

TAM said Thursday it will offer avatars – users’ 3-D representations that, ironically, can fly on their own – gifts to take virtual TAM flights to Second Life islands called Milan, Paris, New York and England.

The islands represent the leading Brazilian airline’s actual international destinations.

“Of course, avatars can fly there on their own, or we can take them there, free of charge, for which they get frequent flier points and gifts like a virtual aircraft or clothes,” a company spokesman said ahead of TAM’s Second Life launch Friday.

Coldwell Banker’s Second Life

A TAM lounge will be set up on Second Life’s Berrini Island, where avatars will be greeted by a virtual pilot and a flight attendant.

“It’s more of an institutional marketing tool, for people to learn about the airline’s destinations, and for us to be present in this new online fever,” the spokesman said.

Several companies are already active in Second Life, including Japanese car maker Toyota (Charts), IBM (Charts) and Reuters Group Plc (Charts), which has a virtual news bureau there.

TAM said some 200,000 Brazilians use Second Life (secondlife.com), the virtual world’s fourth-biggest community by country.

TAM ended last month with a 51.7 percent share of Brazil’s air travel market. It flies to 48 cities in Latin America’s largest country and to various places abroad.

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Coldwell Banker In Second Life

Posted by SIM on April 6, 2007

ESTATE AGENTS TARGET VIRTUAL PROPERTY
BY Sherrilynne Starkie
6 April 2007

THEY say investing in property is like putting money in the bank, writes Sherilynne Starkie.
Does this still hold true when the real estate isn’t land, bricks and mortar but is little more than a few pixels in a virtual world?

One of America’s largest estate agents, Coldwell Banker, is setting up in Second Life, an online virtual world where millions of people get together to socialise and conduct business, with the aim of selling virtual properties.

I can’t say that I’ve met too many estate agents that can write code or spend the necessary hours online to be a bona fide internet geek, but I guess the brand association works.
Instead of buying its own island, the company has invested in a large number of properties on the mainland.

It has ‘developed’ these properties with houses and apartments with a view to selling them on or renting them out.

This isn’t just some online game. Coldwell Banker is a real company that operates in 45 countries and employs more than 120,000 estate agents.

Its Second Life development involves real money changing hands. Although they don’t see the venture as inherently profitable, the company’s executives see this as a way to provide real value and engage with customers.

Apparently Second Life is a bit of a wild west with a lot of cowboy entrepreneurs flogging this and that.

And so, it’s hoped a ‘known’ brand like Coldwell Banker will bring order to the real estate market and will be welcomed by enthusiasts.

Real staff members will provide information about both Second Life and real world properties by operating the company’s avatars.

Visitors to their virtual office will be flown by virtual helicopter to view properties. Coldwell Banker has designed and built houses that will sell for about US$ 20 but buyers will not be allowed to alter them after the purchase.

The estate agent is the latest in a long line of global brands that have set up in Second Life.

Adidas, Nissan, Reebok, Sony, Reuters are already there. Each ‘lives’ in Second Life in its own way.

Some showcase real world wares, others have virtual conferences and client meetings.

There are cinemas, theatres and other entertainment complexes. Or your avatar can sit in Reuter’s atrium and catch up on real world news.

But before you go headlong into Second Life to build a virtual business, you need to have a thorough understanding of the world online communities. Putting all the cool technology to one side, Second Life is essentially a community with a culture of its own.

Linden Labs the company behind Second Life advises people in the corporate world to proceed with caution. Companies need to think about what they can offer the community and think long-term about how they want to interact if they want to be successful, they say.

A presence in Second Life might help a company raise its profile with new consumers, but if that is the main objective, it is probably not worth the effort, unless you are Ann Summers. According to Fortune magazine, most Second Lifers join to hang out in the virtual sex clubs.

But if you think of it as another way to build relationships with your company’s stakeholders — customers, shareholders, employees etc — it can be powerful. Invite people to join in creating the experience; build connections to real world websites and other social media, and you just might strengthen your business.

That said, Gartner recently predicted that Second Life hype was about to peak and there would be a considerable fall-off in interest. But Reuters has quoted analyst Steve Prentice as saying that the technologies inside Second Life are well established and once the predicted backlash has run its course, there will remain a solid and sizable group of Second Lifers.

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Calvin Klein Launches Second Life Virtual Perfume

Posted by SIM on March 21, 2007

Virtual Scent for a Virtual World
by Clement James
21 Mar 2007

The Second Life virtual community continues to attract more big names from the real world.

Calvin Klein this week became the first global fragrance brand to launch in the virtual world.

Second Life residents and visitors will be able to visit the CK IN2U site to pick up virtual bottles of the new IN2U fragrances for him and her. They will be able to spray virtual partners with virtual “fizzing fragrance bubbles” to initiate dialogue.

Customers can also use specially modified Calvin Klein graffiti bottles to express themselves and whatever they or their friends are ‘in 2’.

UK consumers who want a sniff of the real thing will be able to click through to the CK IN2U website to request a free ‘real world’ sample.

Calvin Klein is also launching a photography competition and gallery, offering avatars the chance to post a snapshot of any image that inspires them in the virtual world.

The winner will become a ‘millionaire’, taking the 1,000,000 Linden dollar prize money.

Lori Singer, vice president of global marketing at Calvin Klein Fragrances, claimed that the perfume will appeal “technosexuals”.

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IBM Launches Developers’ Resources In Second Life

Posted by SIM on March 21, 2007

Codestation includes a giant labyrinth where software developers can build robots and race them against each other.
By Mitch Wagner, InformationWeek
March 21, 2007

IBM on Wednesday launched Codestation, an area in Second Life where it can provide developers with training and information, as well as teach developers about the benefits of collaborating in Second Life. Read on for more information and images.

The centerpiece of the island is a labyrinth where developers can program robots to solve the maze, and run races with each other, as a means of learning to code within Second Life.

The island also features a code library, with objects associated with the code on display. Developers can download the code and interact with it, and IBM will be inviting developers to contribute code to the objects as well.

The island features a pavilion where IBM will host technical presentations and training.

“We see this as a new platform. Three-D environments are like interacting with people in reality. They provide a way to bring developers in who may not be in the same location. We can do training and let them interact with each other in ways they haven’t been able to do until recently,” said Kathy Mandelstein, director of worldwide development and Rational programs for IBM, in an interview.

Second Life is a three-D virtual world with about 200,000 regular users. Almost all the content is created by users, with 3-D design tools and a scripting language called LSL.

InformationWeek sister publication Dr. Dobb’s Journal is working on its own plan to offer developer resources in Second Life.

Major companies, including Adidas, Circuit City, Dell, IBM, Sears, and Toyota, have all set up beachheads for business in Second Life.

Second Life recently has been struggling with growing pains.

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Former Tetris/Square Heads Form Avatar Reality

Posted by SIM on March 12, 2007

By Brandon Boyer
March 12, 2007

Former heads of The Tetris Company and Square USA have announced the formation of upstart studio Honolulu-based Avatar Reality, Inc, as well as the company’s first title, the massively multiplayer Terraformed Mars.

The company will be headed by Henk Rogers, founder of Blue Planet Software, Blue Lava, and The Tetris Company, famous as the man credited with bringing Tetris to Nintendo for release on its then-launching GameBoy.

Joining Rogers is Kazuyuki Hashimoto, former vice president of technology at Electronic Arts and chief technical officer of Square, where he oversaw CG development of such titles as Final Fantasy VII and the Final Fantasy film.

Also serving as members of Avatar Reality’s board are Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov, and former Nintendo of America president Minoru Arakawa.

For its first title, Avatar Reality has announced Terraformed Mars an “online massively multiplayer virtual world,” which the company promises will feature “stunning graphics, realistic characters and endless social bonding opportunities.”

The company announced last week at the Game Developers Conference that it would become the first licensee of Crytek’s middleware engine CryENGINE 2 for use on Terraformed Mars.

Said Avatar Reality ‘mastermind’ Henk Rogers, “Our goal is to create an online virtual world that will feature the highest-level of fun, imagination, romanticism and creative freedom.”

He added, “A highly talented team of celebrated game and movie developers has come together to share their knowledge in creating an online world that will quickly become ‘the’ place to meet your friends.”

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A Scarlet Letter For Second Life

Posted by SIM on March 9, 2007

Residents of Second Life will be able share their opinions of people in the form of a five-star rating, which is designed to establish which individuals are commerce-worthy
By Thomas Claburn
March 9, 2007

Second Life scammers and griefers, beware. RatePoint has your number and it’s somewhere between one and five.

On Monday, RatePoint plans to announce that it’s extending its free social rating service — used to rate and discuss Web sites, products, and services online — to Linden Lab’s virtual world, Second Life.

Just as RatePoint members share their ratings for books and videos, residents of Second Life will be able share their opinions of people, in the form of a one-start to five-star rating, provided the appropriate extension is installed.

The goal is to establish which individuals are commerce-worthy, as eBay attempts to do with its buyer and seller ratings.

“Second Life has a primitive ratings system already, where you can give someone a thumbs up if you like them,” says Chris Bailey, co-founder and CEO of RatePoint. “You pay for that service. What we’re doing is adding several things. This is more of an automated, natural flow of things, where as people approach you, their ratings will simply appear in your private view. And that information will be presented to you in a more personalized way.”

For example, RatePoint members can add comments so that reviews can be discussed with the community.

In addition to tracking personal ratings, RatePoint calculates an aggregate rating based on a user’s “ditto group,” an algorithmically determined group of peers who have rated things similarly. “We take your rating, compare it to everyone else in our system and everything they’ve ever rated before, and then try to see who’s the closest to you,” says Bailey. “If you rate Web sites today on RatePoint.com, you can see your ditto group actively growing as you rate things.”

These aggregate ratings are used for objects and people you haven’t rated yet. In cases where no ditto group rating is available, RatePoint will supply Second Life residents with an average rating based on everyone’s vote, rather than just the votes of like-minded peers.

Bailey maintains that gaming the system won’t be easy because the ditto group score will protect against individuals that attempt to burnish an ill-deserved reputation or tarnish a stellar one. “The gaming problem isn’t taken away completely, but it’s reduced substantially,” he says.

At the moment, RatePoint’s Web-oriented ratings and its Second Life ratings systems are separate, but Bailey says the two will be merged in the next few weeks.

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Second Lawyers

Posted by SIM on March 6, 2007

Internet Gaming Site ‘Second Life’ Has Become Opportunity for Litigators, According to Lawyers USA;
Lawyers USA Launches New Feature by Examining the Intersection of Real and Virtual Worlds
PR Newswire US
March 6, 2007 Tuesday 10:10 AM GMT

Lawyers USA recently launched its new “Internet Lawyer ” feature by exploring how the wildly popular Second Life website has become a land of opportunity for litigators – both real and virtual. The article may be found at

“Our goal with the ‘Internet Lawyer’ feature is to keep our audience informed of the most recent developments in this increasingly complex subject area, and to examine some innovative new ways in which lawyers are not only practicing law, but also how the next generation of attorneys will ultimately be promoting themselves,” explains Associate Publisher/Editor Susan Bocamazo.

For the uninitiated, “Second Life” is a vast and constantly expanding virtual 3D world that is attracting a huge and growing number of participants. Every day, hundreds of thousands of people sit before their computers and enter Second Life in the form of “avatars,” or virtual beings, whom they create when they join.

Using keyboard and screen commands, Second Lifers navigate their avatars through an amazingly lifelike world. Avatars can walk and run, but they also possess the superhuman abilities to fly and instantly teleport to any spot in the enormous Second Life world. They also interact with other avatars, engaging in conversations that are typed by the real people sitting at their computers who form relationships, build actual communities of like-minded souls, and now conduct business transactions – all of which have created a perfect niche for legal counsel.

Lawyers USA staff writer, Dick Dahl, traveled to Second Life to “meet” with several virtual attorneys and plans to continue to report from cyberspace while Lawyers USA establishes the first legal news publication on Second Life.

The “Internet Lawyer” is published once a month in the print edition of Lawyers USA. Upcoming features include:

— Online mock juries
— Audio discovery
— Virtual law firms (NOTE: These are with real people – not avatar-based in Second Life)
— MySpace litigation
— Open Source and Web 2.0 software
— New products from the Las Vegas Consumer Electronic Show

About Lawyers USA

Lawyers USA provides comprehensive coverage of Supreme Court Decisions, national and state legislation, litigation trends and practice management information via a bi-weekly print publication, daily/weekly e-alerts, and complete news archives at .

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Philips, Intel To Team On Patient Data Device

Posted by SIM on March 3, 2007

From Herald news services
Sunday, March 4, 2007

Royal Philips Electronics NV and Intel Corp. plan to launch a wireless, handheld device to assist doctors and nurses in recording and storing patient information.

Philips, one of the world’s largest makers of medical equipment, said the device, including a touch screen and digital camera, had numerous uses. Among them: “to reduce medication errors, positively identify staff and patients, fill out charts, capture vital signs, write up reports and validate blood transfusions, as well as (provide) the ability to closely monitor the healing of wounds.”

Medical professionals would use the devices to relay data to and from a patient’s file on the spot. Perhaps most importantly, it will be “medical grade compliant,” said Philips spokesman Ian Race. “It’s easy to sterilize because it is sealed.” That’s key because in many wards, sanitation rules put many doctors’ personal digital assistants off limits.

Localized snapshots coming to the Weather Channel:

Something seems to be missing from online weather maps.

They show major highways and town names. But have you ever seen one get detailed enough to show neighborhoods and street names and, by extension, truly localized weather?

The Weather Channel is unveiling a product Monday that could change that.

The Atlanta-based cable channel has partnered with Microsoft Corp. to offer detailed road maps combined with satellite imagery. The result is an interactive Web map that lets users zoom in to get a localized snapshot of current weather. That is, to see how it’s affecting their neighborhood – not just the city as a whole.

The interactive map can be found on the channel’s online site,www.weather.com. It has a sliding bar that controls the view of the weather, along with tools that let users pan around the map.

“Earl Grey, hot, bot”:

Japan is pretty serious about robotics. If the droids are going to fit in, they probably need to learn the Japanese custom of serving tea.

Fortunately, researchers at the University of Tokyo are exploring just that. In a demonstration this week, a humanoid with camera eyes made by Kawada Industries Inc. poured tea from a bottle into a cup. Then another robot on wheels delivered the cup of tea in an experimental room that has sensors embedded in the floor and sofa as well as cameras on the ceiling, to simulate life with robot technology.

“A human being may be faster, but you’d have to say ‘Thank you,'” said University of Tokyo professor Tomomasa Sato. “That’s the best part about a robot. You don’t have to feel bad about asking it to do things.”

“Second Life” brings on the noise:

The virtual 3-D world of “Second Life” has always been a place where people could gather and communicate – but only by silently typing notes to each other. In attempt to add more realism, “Second Life” is about to get a whole lot noisier.

Linden Lab, the company behind “Second Life,” says it is implementing voice-over-Internet software that will let the thousands of people online at any given moment talk to each other over their computers’ microphones and speakers.

One key feature will be something called spatial audio. To mimic sound in the physical world, the ability to talk and hear conversations will be contingent on the separation between people in the virtual environment, said Joe Miller, a technology executive for Linden Lab. A group close together will be able to chat normally, but once a certain distance is reached, not even shouting will be enough, Miller said.

Add Ning to the social networking list:

Web browser pioneer Marc Andreessen helped bring the Internet to the masses during the 1990s. Now the Netscape Communications co-founder is trying to help Web surfers build online communities outside the walls of leaders MySpace.com and Facebook.com.

Andreessen’s vehicle this time around is Ning Inc., a Palo Alto-based startup that he began in 2005 with former banker Gina Bianchini.

After months of fine-tuning, Ning is finally ready to make its big push with a free toolkit designed to make it easy to launch a social network with a few mouse clicks. Ning’s package includes all the social networking staples – videos, photos, music, forums, personal profiles and blogs.

Although both MySpace and Facebook have become smash hits by offering the same features, Andreessen is convinced people dislike the big social networks’ one-size-fits-all approach. With Ning’s products, even technology neophytes can customize social networks around narrowly shared interests, such as a sports team, church group, hobby or TV show.

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