Merging with your avatar

Tom James @ 20-07-2009

avatarAn interesting discussion from Thomas Frey at the DaVinci Institute on at which point our individual identity merges with that of our avatars:

With each generation of avatar, they will become more life-like, growing in realism, pressing the limits of autonomy as we become more and more reliant on them for experiencing the world. The avatar will become an extension of ourselves. The pain that we feel is the same pain that they feel, and vice versa. Like symbiotic twins separated only by a dimension or two, we are destined to become one with our avatars.

Karl Schroeder explores a similar notion of avatars becoming extensions of ourselves in Lady of Mazes.

[via FutureBlogger][image from TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³]


Can I borrow a feeling?

Tom James @ 23-03-2009

hapticsjacketWonderful haptic jacket being developed at Phillips Electronics, from Physorg:

Paul Lemmens, a Philips senior scientist, explains that the jacket isn’t meant to make viewers feel the actual punches and blows that the actors are receiving on the screen. Rather, the intentions are more subtle.

The jacket’s purpose is to make viewers feel anxiety and other emotions through signals such as sending a shiver up the viewer’s spine, creating tension in the limbs, and creating a pulse on the chest to simulate a rapid heartbeat.

Intense.

[image from PhysOrg]


Virtual reality: now covers all five senses, still looks stupid

Paul Raven @ 11-03-2009

Hey folks, remember virtual reality? A decade and a half ago, we were importuned with promises of virtual worlds that we could walk around in physically rather than clicking our way through with a mouse or joystick; computer-generated realities that would – in hardly any time at all – become an enjoyably commercialised take on Gibsonian cyberspace; a destination where we could work, play, learn and… er, meet new people, if you know what I mean.

'Virtual Cocoon' VR headsetAfter the fad for arcade games with bulky headsets blew over (and the Lawnmower Man movie started to look dated), VR kinda dropped off all but the most geeky of radars… but there are still some clades of techo-optimists (who doubtless shoulder their way past back-issues of Mondo 2000 each morning on their way work) striving to bring the golden technodream of the early nineties to fruition.

People like the team behind the “Virtual Cocoon”, a virtual reality headset that promises to stimulate all five senses for a completely immersive experience:

Smell will be generated electronically using a technique that will deliver a pre-determined smell recipe on-demand while the team intend to provide a texture sensation relating to something being in the mouth and tactile devices will provide touch input.

As Gizmag points out (and the accompanying photo makes plain), you’re still going to look pretty stupid while wearing the thing… and it’s probably pretty cumbersome, too. [image ganked from linked article]

Maybe it’s mean of me to snark, but I can’t help but feel this route to VR is a dead-end mud-track; with all the rapid advances in brain imaging and direct electromagnetic cortical stimulation, I suspect that when virtual reality finally arrives it won’t do so via helmets with tiny eye-screens and smell-generators, but through a comparatively subtle skull-cap of electrodes.


The battle to build the definitive virtual London

Paul Raven @ 17-01-2009

composite virtual LondonHere comes the latest iteration of the land-grab. Given that the metaverse offers theoretically infinite space in all four dimensions, no one need fight over lebensraum… but Victor Keegan points out the business value of having the definitive virtual version of a city like London:

Build a 3D London and you can rent out apartments and shops, get advertising, boost heritage sites and familiarise tourists with the capital before they arrive. And, of course, go out clubbing and meeting people.

During a recession, won’t people want to stay at home using broadband, already paid for, rather than going out? Won’t they want to shop without the hassle and parking problems of Oxford Street?

Keegan’s not the first to realise this – five different organisations are building or have already built a 3D version of the UK capital. The Second Life iteration of London is already up, running and renting out properties, but the proprietary versions (which will doubtless be bigger money-makers in the long run, and hopefully less frustratingly bug-ridden) are hot on its heels, including a yet-to-be-unveiled Microsoft offering that is apparently described by a rival as “phenomenal”. [image by *spud*]

What isn’t mentioned is what the City of London itself thinks about all this (although the Ordnance Survey people have already delayed one project by a few years by claiming exclusive rights on their maps, despite their bill being footed by the taxpayer). If there’s money to be made from a virtual London, I’m certain that the real London will feel it deserves a cut of the action; it’s no less ridiculous than a lot of current intellectual property lawsuits.

So, will the famous (and not-so-famous) cities of the world start selling exclusive licenses to metaverse developers? Will developers with less scruples build unlicensed replicas anyway? Will there be a panoply of Londons, Amsterdams, New Yorks or Belgrades – the X-rated versions, the Christianised or Islamicised versions, the simplified versions for school trips?

And once the bandwidth and bit-rates get high enough, will we ever want to trudge around the originals?


NEW FICTION: ROOTS by Mark Ward

Paul Raven @ 05-01-2009

Futurismic fiction hits the ground running for the new year with “Roots” by Mark Ward.

Super-enhanced transhuman troubleshooters; augmented and virtual realities; griefers and grifters and ex-girlfriends… when Chris East sent this one over from the slush pile, I took a look at the first few paragraphs and was sucked inexorably right through to the end before I knew what hit me. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did – be sure to let us know in the comments box at the bottom!

Roots

by Mark Ward

The first Hitler was seen by a jogger chasing the morning light through the remains of San Francisco. He stood in the grassy clearing once known as Ghirardelli Square declaiming to an invisible audience.

The runner hesitated when she saw him, sneakers tapping time on a strip of sidewalk missed by the robot reclamation teams. He looked crazy but she did not know if he was the pervert or harmless kind.

The countdown in the corner of her vision went pink so she pushed off the kerb and out across the springy turf. She relaxed when she saw its shadow pointed toward the sun. It was only a shade. Good work too. The uniform draped well and even the toothbrush moustache looked the right side of ridiculous. She shot some footage then wiggled her fingers to file it to the news channels. Another Hitler popped into view before she dipped under the tree line.

Hitlers were rampant by the time she was leaning on her thighs on Pier 39, sucking in lungfuls of air and fighting the urge to puke.

A thick drift of them, their jerking salutes as choreographed as a chorus line, had formed around the Fountain of Light in Montgomery Park. Continue reading “NEW FICTION: ROOTS by Mark Ward”


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