Virtualized Worlds and Mobile Phones:
Results of a Chat with a Real/Virtual Inventor

Fri, May 18, 2007


2D bar codes, or “QR codes,” made their debut (input as data) in Second Life today, thanks to the efforts of Dave Conway-Jones “CJ Chowderhead.”

This morning, CJ kindly spent time doing an interview with me. But, of course, if you are lucky enough to meet an inventor, what you really want is an invention! And, CJ Chowderhead did not disappoint. He came up with a solution to an on the spot request to bring a 2D bar code into Second Life, not merely as a texture or image, but as a QR code sent as data and readable by a mobile phone from within 2nd Life. If you project that image full screen (while in SL) a phone should be able to read it.

The QR code in this pic points at the eightbar blog. And, so yet another way to bring 1L and 2L (RL and SL) together, or at least build a small bridge between them, is born. Could it be a seed for a form of hyperlinking in Second Life?

Dave Conway-Jones” is a Senior inventor, IBM Hursley Park, Winchester, UK. He works in the “Emerging Technology Service Group.” In real life he builds and experiments with sensor networks designed to monitor real life, real time devices. These are often used for asset monitoring systems and process control. (If you are not familiar with these terms think Dow jones or your personal stock portfolio for “asset monitoring,” and robotic production lines or automated lab analysis for “process control.” Not that either of these are the actual applications that CJ is working with – at least as far as I know. I’m just trying to establish a general understanding.)

Virtualizing Real Life in a Meaningful Way

I can use Second Life to virtualize my real life sensors and see them in a more meaningful way – or more. abstract way or more interesting way – or whatever else we feel like (CJ Chowderhead).

For this project they use the IBM MQtt messaging system that Ginger Mandelbrot invented to hook all the monitoring devices together. And, Yossarian Seattle (also Rob Smart of Eightbar and creator of the much lauded SL Translator HUD), created the link from MQtt to Second Life so that messages can flow in and out of Second Life.


CJ explained to me what is going on in these pictures of his virtual office in Second Life. And, here is some of what I picked up on (we talked on skype, so I didn’t have the SL chat log to go back to!).

The floor plan is of the offices surrounding CJ in Real Life. The blue balls with white designs represent active Bluetooth devices. The pyramids scattered about the floor represent other people working, with the color designating things like physical presence or telepresence. The flame in the pic on the left is a probe under the lamp, “so when lamp is on the temp goes up.” The black rectangle in the righthand pic is a RL door (so CJ knows when someone enters his lab).

I don’t remember what CJ said about the flowerpot. But, a good guess might be that it represents the output of a bevy of environmental sensors such as temperature, humidity and light, the same things that a plant would need to thrive. I am also guessing about the building with the smoke coming out of the chimney. But, it could well represent air quality monitors.

I do know about the the duck on CJ’s shoulder though! It speaks and says:

“Quack ! The temperature in CJ’s 1st life Greenhouse is 24.0 degrees C,” or for outside or inside CJ’s house – randomly.

The pink bunny slippers no doubt represents someone always hopping around, dealing with so many different issues and problems like we all do occasionally. :-)

Sensor Map projects have a lot of potentially very cool applications, and huge societal implications. 3pointD recently posted on this, “mirror worlds,” and Microsoft’s recent offer of “unrestricted funding” for the development of geospatial and mapping applications.

Mobile Phones as a Virtual/Real Interface

CJ explained how they use mobile phones as an interface to the data (represented in SL) both for input (voice, text, and now even bar codes!) as well as for output in the form of dashboards (think of a car dashboard of gages and other information presented in the form of instrumental readouts).

Semapedia - hyperlink your world:
QR codes will be a hot topic at MobileCampNYC

A Semapedia tag going up!

For those who have not yet been introduced to QR codes, they are a way of representing more information than can generally be put into your standard grocery store bar code. One of the big adopters of this has been Nokia who developed software for many of their phones to be able to translate these into URLs and lookup web pages of appropriate information about something near where someone has placed one of these 2DBC’s.

Semapedia is collecting and mapping sites where many of these QRs have been placed.

Our goal is to connect the virtual and physical world by bringing the right information from the internet to the relevant place in physical space.

To accomplish this, we invite you to create Semapedia-Tags which are in fact cellphone-readable physical hyperlinks. You can create such Tags easily yourself by choosing and pasting a Wikipedia URL into the form above. Once created, you put the Tags up at their according physical location. You just hyperlinked your world! Others can now use their cellphone to ‘click’ your Tag and access the information you provided them.

Twitter Users Second Life Meet Up


The Meet Up organized by 57 Miles of Metaversed today was packed with Twitterati and Metarati whose uber connecting creates flows all around the Web and the Metaverse. Apps like SLTweets, Twitterbox, Squawk, Jaiku (see Metaverse’s 5 ways to integrate your Second Life into the web), Flickr (and see Mashable for more on SL plus Web 2.0 Virtual World Mashups) and Snapzilla (post cards from life #2) were probably all in action this morning as the chat ranged across many hot topics. Wrestling Hulka was posting to Tumblr.

Johnny Ming sported a Jaiku sign – showing his continued allegiance to just saying no to the unpleasant symptoms of Twitter cat allergy?

Chisel’s Inventor, Vyrnox Ming, talked about a HUD that “works rather well with the Electric Sheep Company’s search.

And Fox Diller, of Crystal Studio, explained the work they have done running 120 sims for their client Sprott-Shaw with their own grid/asset/login/sim services. Also, Fox has a Second Life client running on the Motorola Q Smartphone.

This was my first Twitter Meet Up on Second Life. But, if you want to know what is happening on the frontiers of Virtual Worlds and Web 2.0, it is a good place to hang out. And, even though there were a lot of avatars, 57 Miles did a great job of welcoming all. See you next time!

Tags: | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

categories: Augmented Reality, Bar Camp, crossing digital divides, Mobile Technology, Second Life, social media, Virtual Worlds, Web3.D

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Diego Gray Says:

    i guess mobile phones in the future will feature more processing power and great graphics”‘*

8 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Naked Imagination » Blog Archive » Real World to Virtual World device communications Says:

    [...] The ever inventive and productive Dave CJ from our emerging tech department at work has been hooking up more of his demonstration lab to SecondLife. Tracking the state of everyday objects and visualizing their state in world allows for remote control of devices and a quick way to check up status of a remote site/home or factory type installation. There’s a nice detailed write up over on UgoTrade.. [...]

  2. Says:

    IBM Sensors Link Real World and Virtual World…

    UgoTrade has a lengthy write-up of some of the work IBM has been doing in the virtual world of Second Life lately. [Via IBM’s Rob Smart.] The blog entry is all about creating links between the real world and the virtual world, so that sensor data…

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    [...] UgoTrade Crossing Digital Divides – tracking innovative uses of technology in new environments. home « Virtualized Worlds and Mobile Phones: Results of a Chat with a Real/Virtual Inventor [...]

  4. UgoTrade: The emerging meta-world « Identity Unknown Says:

    [...] post on CJ Chowderhead’s virtualized lab on Second Life (in this picture with his duck that reports temperatures from Real Life locations) was picked up by [...]

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    [...] If you want a detailed explanation of how IBM inventors are using Second Life and IBM’s MQtt messaging to virtualize and make meaningful data from Real Life on Second Life there are many relevant posts on Eightbar. Also see my earlier post on the work of C.J. Chowderhead’s virtual lab. [...]

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    [...] VWCI is a piece of hardware and software that on one hand solves the problem of ‘talking’ to the various protocols in building automation (LON, KNX, Enocean, ZigBee, CANOpen, Profibus, Modbus…..) and on the other hand links RL buildings to SL to allow for a drastic improvement on facility management processes, reducing the carbon imprint of everything from commercial buildings, individual homes to shopping malls, industrial facilities, and more. VWCI uses IBM’s MQtt messaging protocol and the IBM WebSphere portal in the backend (see my earlier post on IBM Senior Inventor C.J Chowderhead). [...]