I need someone to explain this to me.

Lively, Google’s stab at Second Life


Google has just released their own avatar based social arena a la Second Life, which is called Lively. It will require a client download and install like the popular MUD, but after that it can be accessed via IE and Firefox.

Lively allows user to create their own online spaces that can include natural or human-built settings and customize their avatars (which are relatively cartoonish in comparison to SL avatars). Google’s engineering manager for Lively [Niniane Wang] explains that they wanted to create a more socially rich environment than was possible with emotes and other chatroom features.

Lively’s core functions are not particularly novel, but it does innovate with various web integration features. Videos and images from the internet are viewable from within Lively, and users can embed their own personal Lively areas into their blogs or websites (hello VRML).

Lively is not nearly as expansive as Second Life yet, with no form of currency included and only stock items, clothes, avatars, and geometry to choose from. What’s more, it is only available for Windows XP and Vista, with no other OS support announced. We can see this getting better in the future, but those of you who’s lives are so great that you need a second one (or a third) will probably want to jump on this now.

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Wii Fit World of Warcraft


By now you’ve probably seen the video of two researchers from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) navigating through maps on Google Earth by using the Wii Fit Balance Board. They’ve gone even further now by using the board to navigate World of Warcraft. It’s obvious that the board is usable with any 3D environment. The hack is entirely software based, as the board is completely unmodified. It relays data to a laptop via Bluetooth, where the pressure data in converted to directional instructions by their custom app written in C#. No notes on the project are available on DFKI’s site, but we’re betting they’ll release the software to the public once all the kinks are worked out.

[via Balance Board Blog]

Alternative 3D controllers


There are several very nice 3D mice out there for navigating services like Google Earth or Second Life. 3Dconnexion for example makes a whole line of devices for 3D navigation. Their compact units offer 6-8 degrees of freedom with several customizable options. The company has an SDK available and many of their devices are natively compatible with Linux (or available for access through an XInput driver). So while that is all well and great, lets look at some alternative ways people are navigating 3D spaces.

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Flying RC penis violates chessmaster’s airspace


A speech by famed chess player Garry Kasparov was interrupted Saturday by a remote controlled flying penis. Since many of you are at work or school we’ll leave all the pictures, videos, and tasteless jokes after the break.

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