Two weeks ago I returned from more than a week in Singapore, and Jonathan has just returned home from three weeks in Asia. He was with me in Singapore and then continued on to Beijing for work and vacation. There is a lot of Wonderland activity going on in those parts of the world!
Singapore is a clean, attractive, modern city with a beautiful riverfront.
The main goal of the Singapore trip was to train a team of engineers working on a Co-Space project called “Frameworks for Virtual Worlds.” Co-Space is program funded by the Singapore Media Development Authority (MDA). The Co-Space Press Release explains the details. This particular Co-Space project involves building a sensor and telemetry framework for Wonderland so that educators, in particular, can easily integrate sensor data into the virtual environment. This data may come from Sun SPOTs, other physical sensors, or from web services that provide streams of data. As the project advances, the team will also consider how devices outside the world can be controlled from inside.
Jon did the bulk of the training, walking the team through cell creation, cell components, and other architectural details.
As the team gets underway, we look forward to their active participation on the forum and also some up-coming guest blog posts.
For one of the days of training, we met at the MDA offices in the futuristic Fusionopolis building. This was quite a high-tech facility with interesting architecture. They had a well-appointed demo room in which we saw a demo of a project called Virtual Singapore. MDA is funding a project to model the entire city of Singapore. They have a portion of the work done, and it looks very impressive. They even have the interior of several buildings modeled. Their hope is to use this data in a range of different projects. One we heard about involves integrating it into a system for emergency first responders.
In addition to the Co-Space training and several days of informal interaction with the team, we did two formal talks. One, hosted at a technical college called ITE East, was a half-day Wonderland Development Workshop for students. We had about 50 students attend the workshop which was held in a fancy auditorium with a teleprompter embedded in the floor.
The second, hosted by MDA, was a higher-level talk for 30 teachers and school administrators on the topic of integrating virtual world technology into the curriculum. The highlight of the presentation was when we asked two high school students from the Victoria School’s IT Club to come up and talk about their Wonderland IT Clubhouse project. The students expected to use just a single slide to describe their project, but behind the scenes Jon and a local staff person were able to import the students’ clubhouse model into Wonderland 0.5 on MDA’s Wonderland server. The students had never seen it in 0.5 before and were astounded to see a live demo of their work projected behind them.
It’s a great space and we’re looking forward to seeing them add some interactivity to it. Their general concept is to allow IT Club members to work together from home in the evenings and use the space to showcase the results of their various programming projects.
While in the country, we also visited the National University of Singapore, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and the Singapore Science Center (science museum). At each place, we heard about experiments with Wonderland and ideas for future Wonderland projects.
Unrelated to Wonderland, we also had the pleasure of serving as guest judges in the finals of the Singapore Open Jive programming competition.
The winning entry, Smart Shop from a team of students from Temasek Polytechnic, was quite impressive. They had used some open source augmented reality software to enhance an on-line shopping experience. The example they demo’d was a person shopping for a hat. The person would first print out a tag that had a code (like a UPC) printed on it. Then they would sit in front of their computer’s video camera and hold the tag up to their head. The screen then showed their image wearing the selected hat. They could see what the hat looked like on them in different colors, styles, and sizes.
After 10 days in Singapore, I headed home and Jon continued on to Beijing.
The China portion of the trip was a bit more focused. In Beijing, Jon met up with a group of other Sun employees involved with China Innovation Program for Students (CHIPS) program. This article provides an overview of the program:
As part of CHIPS, teams of 3 students from 10 top universities in China submitted proposals to work on a project related to one of five Sun open source technologies: Project Wonderland, Project Darkstar, Sun SPOTs, Open Solaris, and NetBeans. These projects are designed to last for 6 months. A group with representatives from each open source project reviewed the proposals and selected the top proposals to pursue. The accepted proposals included six Wonderland projects. We have two each from Nanjing and Wuhan Universities
and another two from Tianjin and Zhejiang Universities. The proposals range from in-world weather simulations to acupuncture training to virtual home previews.
In order to support these projects, the faculty advisers for most of the student teams gathered in Beijing for training. Jon taught a half-day workshop intended to help the faculty get started with Wonderland development.
The training was not without its challenges. We discovered that there are issues running Wonderland on the Chinese version of Windows. In addition, a number of the faculty came with NetBooks and other laptops that did not have graphics cards capable of running Wonderland. On the other hand, they assured Jon that the students would have access to either their own laptops or computer labs where these problems could be overcome. We are looking forward to this fall, when the students start working on their projects.
As with the Co-Space team and the various others working on Wonderland projects in Singapore, we hope that the students working on Wonderland CHIPS projects will become active members of the Wonderland open source community. And we especially look forward to experiencing the Wonderland worlds created by the six student project teams.