Global standards among real and virtual worlds
(duration: 10/2008 - 04/2011 /// funding: ITEA2)
Metaverse1 – named after the fictional virtual world in Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash – is an ITEA2 European innovation project. The Metaverse is a virtual, 3D-world where people can work, interact, play, travel, learn, shop and augment real life.
The goal of the Metaverse1 project is to create a standardized, global framework that will enable easy interaction between virtual worlds (such as Second Life, World of Warcraft, IMVU or Google Earth) and the real world.
The Metaverse1 project can be viewed as a means to overcome the division between real and projected, virtual worlds. Ultimately, users will be able to maneuver between the real and virtual worlds without having to worry about incompatibility between virtual and real goods, avatars, rules, security, privacy.
It is foreseen that the Metaverse will be the start of the next revolution of the internet and related technologies and will become a major source of information, services, education and entertainment in the ‘digital society'. The project takes ‘eInclusion' seriously: all people – minorities too – should have easy access to the digital society.
Within the Metaverse1 project, several use cases are defined for particular application domains. These use cases range from virtual travel, where virtual tourists can obtain destination information; to virtual presence, where real people and their activities are modeled in the virtual world.
The use case virtual presence is concerned with creating a seamless integration between the virtual and real world, where real world devices such as wireless sensor networks (WSN), actuators, and robots are used to connect both worlds. A 'smart' room with sensors and actuators is created, which interacts with a replica in the virtual world.
Through the use of WSN technology, activities in the real world can be detected and visualized in the virtual world. The opposite is also the case: manipulation of the real world from the virtual world will be possible through actuators.
Within the Metaverse1 project, Almende focuses on virtual presence - representing real (world) people and their activities within the virtual world. Using its expertise in wireless sensor networks (WSN) and communication technology, Almende will connect both worlds. WSN technology enables activities in the real world to be detected and visualized in virtual worlds.
For a seamless integration between the real and virtual world a framework is constructed that is able to translate hardware independent sensor information into predictions about the environment state and perceived activities. This is achieved by defining standardized information structures and by applying multi-layer abstractions.
Predictions about the environment state and activities of daily life are made by fusing sensor information from all kinds of low level non-intrusive sensors like accelerometers, light sensors, ECG's and thermometers. The framework enables better compatibility with and adoption of new sensors.