Oct 252010
 

Blame it on the Zeitgeist. I am spending most of my time at the moment developing and conceiving AR Services and Games for clients and my own company MUVEDesign. Also in my lecturing/consultancy roles across transmedia and multi platform in Sydney such as at the Australian Film TV and Radio school earlier in the year and at the moment at MetroScreen, I would say that more than half the projects, being collaboratively created as part of curriculum, have a strong, story based Augmented Reality component. I posted last year on these emerging AR entertainment services but there are still not that many ‘story rich’ examples created for market. So is there a future for these new forms? A hybrid combination of story, social location gaming all delivered on the latest camera based smart phones? Read on for some case studies and a couple of my own examples.

AdTech Tokyo Main RoomFirstly I am presenting on an Augmented Reality panel later this week in Tokyo, part of Ad:Tech and now most folk are ‘caught up’ on simple AR business models and current delivery (see my post from over a year ago) I will be speaking more about a near term future – especially in the area of branded location based augmented reality games and services, adveraugrealitygaming anyone 🙂 I also thought it would be a good opportunity to show one of three developments in this space I am doing called ‘Time Treasure” – a rudimentary, story rich LBARG (location based AR game?!) that I am currently story designing & coding for Android tablets. Short 2 minute taster video embedded below…

Story in Augmented Game Worlds

Without giving the plot away, the structure of this game is quite straightforward. There are ten layers of time from 2050 back to 5000BC that you slowly penetrate following stories, clues and trails all based at POIs (points of interest, precise locations) around your city. The traditional MMOG talking-head quest and story givers are a unique part of this as well as a range of capture & loot quests that require you in some cases to do a little ‘real world’ grinding… ok not too much 🙂 For me the challenge as always is about creating strong ‘call to actions’ and constructing a narrative backbone to make it worth your while walking and in some cases running around town! I will do a post when this reaches a full working pilot.

Speaking of early trailers it is a shame that Ghostwire, which has been around the blogosphere for over a year and that I have written about a few times, is now shelved while they find another publisher. I think this may be a platform issue being created only for DSi (tablet, iPhone 4 anyone), but the horror or crime genre this is set in is obviously rife for the taking, in this locative form…hence perhaps why we are starting to see the release of simple AR locative story services appear more regularly in this genre, such as zGhost 2 for the iPhone, iTouch and even iPad…ready for Halloween but I think they missed a ‘branded entertainment’ trick, in that it wasn’t tied into the release of Paranormal 2 film?

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Feb 162009
 

I have blogged long and hard about the future of the metaverse and particularly how key sectors can make use of them as a functional tool. Education are already motoring, social activity is still the key driver, artists use it for music, video and performance and buying/selling ‘user to user’ businesses are still strong. One area that has received most contraversy is of course ‘real brands’, a so called exodus and ‘really’ what is the ROI. I published over at my MUVEDesign VW development site, a first stab at where I think we are on the Gartner Hype Curve for social virtual worlds (not game worlds!). Here it is again (linked from my flickr account).

Gartner Hype Cycle SVW

I do believe we are probably at the lowest ebb for brands in second life. This is bourne out by the SL brand stats I founded over at The Project Factory – you can see the dwell traffic for most brands outside the top 10 are exceedingly low. That doesn’t mean its game over. Far from it, as the lessons are learned and now it is time for companies to get it right, by avoiding developers that focus on build it and run (yes they are still here) and deliver experience, social interaction and relevance. I cover this in a lot more detail in posts back in 06-08!

Andy Mallon over at the Social Research Foundation has published a nice Annual Surver PDF report which is an inworld survey of Second Life users who ‘know’ second life – vs the tourist reports we often get from fly-by-night journalists or Gen Y social marketeers who don’t get it! Heres the blurb on the report (seeing I use the nice charts below!) Gotta earn my keep 🙂

The First Opinions Panel is the largest consumer research panel in Second Life with 10,000 members from newbies to the most active and involved “residents” who, Own the most virtual land, Spend and earn the most money there, Spend the most time there, an average of over two hours a DAY!, Run the most groups. Over 1,000 of our members own one or more groups in SL, many with hundreds to thousands of members. These are the leaders in Second Life. They are studied by over 33 demographic and psychographic attributes from both their real and Second life.

Firstly the longevity for users in Second Life. Remember that at the moment there are between 60-75 thousand users inworld at any moment and 31% spend an average of TWO HOURS a day in Second Life – 2/3 spend at least ONE hour a day! The next question is what is the churn rate, how long do people actually hang around using the service?

srf_howlonginsl

srf_slinvolvement

So Second Life is perhaps not ‘for life’. It seems many folk do tire of it at around 18 months with only around 20% going for longer than two years. Again this isn’t a real issue for brands as the culmulative user hours across the board puts Facebook, YouTube and other social spaces to shame.

This culmulative dwell is also on the increase. Get a user loyal to your brand and you may have them for longer than a year. Which seques nicely onto how do those inworld for these long periods actually want to interact with brands…

srf_brandinteraction

The item that stands out for me is ‘product development’. This has been consistently under utilized so far and there is still a big gap in the virtual marketplace for a big brand to really go beyond designing a hotel layout or fantasy coke machine. I know one brand will be stepping up to the mark this year and demonstrate how powerful this aspect can be. One item that is missing for me is brands ‘presenting’ to inworld inhabitants and facilitating ‘Ted talks’ like events rather than that being the domain of academia only. The SRF published a few choice statements from savvy inworld folk that reinforces several of the key points I and others have been bleating about for years.

  • “Don’t advertise to me – give me something that does not waste my time – make me want to learn more about by entertaining me, informing me or educating me. And make it cool.”
  • “Don’t just expect to do normal marketing – you have to hold events and interact with people”
  • “Bringing real world products inworld is the next inevitable evolution.”
  • “SL is a great way to reach those whom may need services that you may not reach otherwise. ”
  • “Real life companies tend to create great places but just leave them behind. They should assign some people to stay online and accommodate those people who visits their places in Second Life.”
  • “You have to engage people in SL, not simply put up marketing messages and expect residents to flock to you.”

The survey goes beyond well trodden areas too by asking about their Real Life Primary Job and how Second Life has been an enabling tool for it. It is no surprise that learning, collaboration and meetings are high on the list but what will become more and more significant will be real world recruitment – gauging a persons abilities and/or personality inworld. Kelly, Accenture and others are already versed in this space.

srf_primaryjob

With the level of doom about brands in second life this question goes to the heart of what activities are on the decline. So looking at this chart the shorter the bar the better and running RL businesses in Second Life is the least in decline. (It is not clear from this chart if surveyed folk actually answered all questions so will leave it a little to your imagination as regards a true split here)

srf_sltrends

As a finale and related to the above, Clever Zebra’s Virtual Worlds for Business 2009 is now out as a free publication looking at VW for business applications. Unsure of the ‘enterprise readiness’ of all ten worlds author Nick Wilson highlights companies that are already sold on VW for meetings at least – which is slightly contradictory to him saying, expect to be logged out of meetings regularly? Anyway in the free report here are a few quotes from the document:

Dell “Employees report that they are more engaged in the 3D environment than on a conference call and that they feel more involved and apt to participate. An added side benefit is that this pilot project affords Dell the opportunity to experiment with moving toward a greener future where more and more employees work from home, not the office.”

IBM “IBM estimates that they saved approximately $250,000 by taking the conscious decision not to hold the Virtual Worlds for Business conference (normally a 2.5 day in person meeting) physically this year, and more for the Annual General meeting (normally a 3 day event for 400 Academy members and affiliates).”

Sun “Sun were able to transform an otherwise exclusive, expensive event into an inclusive inexpensive one open to a much wider audience of junior engineers who would benefit from the real learning experiences provided in a virtual setting. They were even able to get Hal Stern, Snr VP Systems Engineering to come in and do 2 full chat sessions exclusive to the virtual component of the 2008 CEC.”

May 142008
 

Currently doing some talks about online buzz and the ‘network’ and thought I would share some of those cute charts I threw together to illustrate a few angles. Firstly though just wanted to get out there a simple view/evolutionary map of the track we are on, the out-of-control train without brakes hurtling towards an always-on, networked speck of cosmic dust, we call home. To warm you up before the here and now stuff, some simple jumps to illustrate this continuum (note: step 12 onwards gets a little space cadet! but you will see the link 🙂 –

  1. The dawn of man, the darkest age, little or no communication
  2. The age of non-verbal, small geographically challenged, tribal/family communities
  3. A common verbal language – communities expand, explore and spread ideas very slowly around the globe
  4. Stories, beliefs and knowledge shared slowly via printed material
  5. Life and ideas from one perspective captured on film and played back to many, delayed and editorialized by a select few
  6. Audio stories as opinions spread by a few, live, in real time, one to many via voice only broadcast, radio
  7. Live cameras connect to broadcast towers and satellites, the world focuses on few to many TV – they also plays stored media to increase stickiness
  8. Early copper internet starts to carry text, audio and grainy video, pushed at computer users – web 1.0
  9. Fiber and faster copper broadband gradually makes all stored content immediately available replacing TV and Radio while computers become mobile
  10. Communities form and connect globally albeit asynchronously, leaving ideas around the web to share and expand – web 2.0
  11. The web becomes more and more instantaneous as text, audio and video are always on, and crude virtual worlds for synchronous co-creative interaction – web 3.0
  12. A fork in the road – part of the world goes into vivid real time virtual spaces as fully rendered, photo realistic avatars, their physical bodies mapped in real time from their physical selves – web 4.0
  13. On the other fork mobile interfaces move from the hand driven mobiles to direct brain (thought) connection – everyone on the planet in real time can instantly communicate with everyone else via thought, prefacing the thought with recipient/s, name, friends, family, country, world and voila – web 5.0
  14. Humanity, connected as one consciousness, takes a leap forward to level 2

OK bit of a jump from Twitter to WiFi brain ‘thought chatter’ connectors between us all but you get the gist 🙂 Back to now, somewhere between 10 to 12 and a few slides I have been using alongside the web 2.0 myth image of last year and a few others to be blogged to help illustrate the wonderfully wacky sharing world of web 2.0.

Wonderful Web 2.0 © Gary Hayes 2008

The first diagram above shows the components of web 2.0 with axes of synch/asynch on the horizontal and one to many and many to many on the vertical axis – all of the components can be delivered to the four screens indicated on the top left. It is primarily intended to show that the blue (text/conversation) and purple (richer media) web 2.0 components are often combined to create a well rounded social network portal. The yellow blocks are messengers, digg and rss which act as glue and navigation.

This series of diagrams below, spheres of influence, below is a quick stab showing at a very high level (read: 101 for newbs) how web 2.0 services cause flocking, sharing and interconnectivity.

Here we have the people (ok my pic of Central Station in NY!), a friend and family core and ripples of connection/separation spiralling outwards.

A metaphoric web over the top – ideally a 3D diagram would make more sense but this suggests a network.

Connections are limited to one-to-one (eg: person to company or property) in a non-web 2.0 world

The addition of three example web 2.0 components of video and photo sharing plus combination social network shows how a flocking occurs as well as more interconnectivity stimulated through those portals. Obviously the components would be interconnected and overlap etc:

Showing how ‘you’ via your blogs, pod and vod casts, tweets, comments and ratings generate links to and from you. The more active you are the more you grow and strengthen the ‘neural’ connections.

A final diagram meant to illustrate the simple idea that once you are established as a micro web 2.0 component you generate specific links directly to you – likely to be niche interest.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2008