Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wii in Second Life

I have a confession to make: I am actually not much of a gamer. I do not own a game console, and barely ever play a game on the PC - unless you consider SL to be a game. But wether you are a gamehead or not, chances are you have heard of Nintendo's Wii game console. The Wii has a unique feature: the Wii Remote. Game consoles used to be controlled by joysticks or a mouse, but the Wiimote is different. It is a wireless device, slightly similar to a television remote control, that allows you to make 3D motions, which are translated to the game. With the Wii, you can, for instance, play a game of bowling: when you make the actual bowling motions with the wiimote in hand, your motions are reproduced in the game.

A couple of days ago, Wired reported on a new initiative by MIT research Fellow David Stone, who is combining the Wiimote with Second Life: Wii + Second Life = New Training Simulator . Dr. Stone is combining the ease of use of the Wiimote, and it's 3D nature, with the 3D environment of Second Life, to facilitate training programs of all kinds. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense: a 3D remote control for a virtual 3D environment.

Customers are looking to virtual training environments to cut costs, and Stone is looking to SL for the same reason. It's quite easy to create basic stuff in SL, and what you can't create, can usually be bought for a couple of Lindens. According to Stone, "it's a world of abundance", as he is quoted in the Wired article.

Of course, technology is only part of the equation. The Wiimote, intuitive as it may be, is still 'only' an input device, and without a good training script or scenario, it's still not going to help much. Plus, for the foreseeable future, virtual training can not fully replace real world training. These, and other, issues are fully recognized, and taken into account according to the Wired story.

As with many other developments in SL, this may very well be only the beginning of an interesting new development in electronic learning and training. Says Stone:

Such explorations are likely just the beginning. More specialized virtual worlds and input devices are likely to crop up in the future, independent of Second Life or the Wiimote.

The point, says Stone, is that "the ability to easily integrate a wide range of psychomotor activities with simulations running on standard computer platforms will change the ways people interact with computers."

Link: full Wired story

No comments: