Monday, April 18, 2011

A Tale of Two Worlds: From Eureka ITEA2 Magazine

The Latest issue of the ITEA2 magazine has a summary of the Metaverse1 project:

The METAVERSE project emerged from the ITEA PO Preparation Days in Germany in 2007. Yesha Sivan, who is also the head of the information systems programme at the Tel Aviv Academic College, presented the field of virtual worlds as one in need of standardisation. “Mobile phones started in the USA but took off with European standardisation efforts in the GSM forum,” he points out. The same type of approach was needed to virtual worlds for European leadership.

Virtual worlds bring together the fields of virtual reality and gaming. Related fields range from the
economy of virtual goods, sociology and the nature of communities, and law – copyrights and ownership – to biology, such as new brain based human-computer interfaces, computer science and mathematics, particularly algorithms for 3D rendering and animation.

Israeli think tank Metaverse Labs and its founder Dr. Yesha Sivan have played a major role in the success of the METAVERSE1 ITEA 2 project that has resulted in MPEG-V a global standard on connecting real and virtual worlds. 

Such worlds are basically a combination of 3D and 3C. The former involves a representation of 3D worlds in which it is possible to walk in an immersive way. The latter stands for three concepts:  community in the form of a more advanced type of Facebook social networking; creation with the ability to create mainly digitally-oriented artefacts; and commerce by making it possible to make money out of it – the Internet originally was not money making but now Amazon and similar web organisations have changed the concept.

His presentation generated much interest and discussion. As a direct result, Sivan joined forces with Jean H. A. Gelissen, Senior Director Strategic Partnerships at Philips Research to form the METAVERSE1 group which involved companies from Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Spain. The goal of the resulting product was simple: to connect real and virtual worlds to enable the new medium to blossom. It involved both the theoretical framework required and four or five use cases. The project was successful in several ways:

1. It resulted in the MPEG-V virtual world standard: a very direct and concrete outcome which may only be a beginning but is an essential step;
2. It came up with lots of small items that can continue to be developed – these were presented at the 3D/3C world conference ( in Israel on March 23, 2011; and
3. It led to the establishment of extremely strong links between the various partners which are already resulting in new co-operations.

Working with EUREKA and Europe is important for Israel, according to Sivan. “Europe is nearby so doing business there is easier,” he points out. “However, while it is a big market, it is less consolidated than the USA, although the euro zone helps. People in Israel are also more Americanised in their thinking. There is a big Israeli community in the USA and many Israelis speak English.”
The same issue had a summary about the MPEG-V event in Korea:

The 1st  International MPEG-V Workshop and Demonstration Day 2011 was organised in parallel with the 95th MPEG meeting on 25 and 26 January, 2011 in the Inter-Burgo Exco hotel in, Daegu, Korea. The purpose of this event was to present and demonstrate MPEG-V, a new standard in the MPEG range and published by ISO in November 2010. This new standard is the frst version of ISO/IEC 23005 (MPEG-V, Exchange with Virtual Worlds) initiated by the ITEA 2 Metavese1 project and co-created with a large number of partners of the Metaverse1 consortium and several companies; institutes and universities from Europe, Korea and Japan. MPEG-V-based products and applications enable multi-sensorial user experience and interchange between virtual worlds.

The standard is composed of several parts referring to:
▪  Architecture and use case scenarios;
▪  Syntax and semantics of data formats for interactive devices, device commands and sensed information;
▪  Metadata to describe device capabilities and user preferences;
▪  Metadata to represent sensory effects; and
▪  Metadata to represent virtual-object and avatar characteristics.

The MPEG-V awareness day was particularly targeted to developers of products and application for multi-sensorial user experience, content creators, broadcasters, multimedia device manufacturers, sensor and actuator manufacturers, virtual worlds and online game developers, and those interested in new opportunities in digital media.