Metaverses - Virtual Worlds

Metaverses - Virtual Worlds

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Places in Virtual Wolrds

People Involved

Jeff Klassen

Michael Carbonaro

For the 2010 Festival of Teaching (, we built a model of the Telus building in SL, which contains models of some artifacts in the Mactaggart art collection ( In our SL Telus building, visitors can learn what UoA offices/services it hosts, they can visit the Mactaggart collection, and they can potentially host virtual meetings of their own in a familiar setting.

This activity explores uses of virtual worlds as

  • places to host distributed synchronous meetings, while maintaining a sense of familiarity with a physical place that the participants know in the real world;
  • persistent, long-term installations of multimedia artifacts (videos, models of real museum collections); and
  • means of enabling people to familiarize themselves they plan to visit.

See a video of the virtual Telus tour.

Virtual Worlds as Views on the Real World - The Smart Condo

People Involved

David Chodos Jianzhao Huang Diego Serrano Nicholas Boers

Pawel Gburzynski Sharla King Lili Liu Ioanis Nikolaidis Eleni Stroulia

In the area of 3D visualization, we are working with researchers in sensor networks and healthcare to create a virtual version of "a smart condo" that can help seniors in assisted-living situations. Although these seniors are, by and large, able to live independently, they are still susceptible to falls, potentially dangerous accidents and other harmful incidents related to physical infirmities or memory loss. Thus, we are developing a model "smart condo" that contains sensors to monitor the senior living in the condo and help ensure his or her safety. This sensor information can then be accessed through a virtual world (in this case, Second Life), and shown either in real-time or played back over a specified time span. Thus, instead of interpreting a chart of sensor readings, the user is immersed in a 3D re-creation of the senior's condo, and can "see" the senior moving through the condo in much the same way as if the user was actually in the condo. Furthermore, this visualization can either occur in real-time, to allow immediate response to critical situations, or be replayed in accelerated mode, to allow quick viewing of large spans of time.

The smart condo application is just one example of the broad potential that virtual worlds hold for visualizing sensor data in 3D environment. Other applications for this type of system include tracking wildlife through rough terrain and monitoring factory processes in real time.

  • This Smart-Condo video shows side-by-side a person's activity in the real smart condo and the corresponding avatar activity in the virtual smart condo.
  • During the Fall term of 2009, Tyler Hawkins developed a Smart Onesie and a Smart Placemat using Arduinos.
  • On December 9 2009, Vanguard College held a groundbreaking ceremony for their new facilities. For this event we developed a scenario in SL to illustrate the vision for their technologically advanced facilities - see the Vanguard video.

Teaching Communications Skills and Professional Behavior

People Involved

Erik DeJong David Chodos

Patricia Boechler Michael Carbonaro Sharla King Eleni Stroulia

The InterD-410 simulation is a teaching module developed as part of the corresponding course at the University of Alberta. This is a mandatory course, designed to teach professional competencies to students across the health disciplines (Rehabilitation Medicine, Nutrition, Physical Education, Nursing, Pharmacy and Dentistry and Medicine). The intent is to instill in students the idea that health delivery is a team process and to help them develop the skills necessary to effectively communicate and collaborate with each other and their patients. The simulation we have developed for this course involves student teams working together to develop a home-care plan for an elderly patient. The teams meet in a virtual conference room, watch a video of the patient’s admission to the hospital, develop a draft plan, interview a virtual simulated patient and refine their plan afterwards.

See the INTERD 410 video.

Simulation-based Training for Interdisciplinary Procedures

People Involved

David Chodos

Michael Carbonaro Sharla King Eleni Stroulia

Our work on medical-simulation training in a virtual world is in collaboration with colleagues from Education, Nursing, Emergency Medical Services and Medicine. The stabilization of a trauma patient by EMS personnel at the scene of the accident and the handoff of the patient to the ER personnel is a complex procedure. It has to conform with many rules and meet timing constraints and it involves the handling of a variety of devices and the coordinated interactions among several people. Training students – across health disciplines – for this complex process is very expensive; it is usually done with standardized-patient scenarios in simulated scenes where the role of the patient is enacted by a professional actor. A virtual-world based simulation can potentially enable the training of many more students by providing a lower-cost alternative while sacrificing little of the verisimilitude of the experience.

For a short video of our simulation module for an EMS scenario, see the EMS/ER simulation video.

This activity is part of the Interdisciplinary Health Education Partnership project - see - and has been part of the Save-Stan events at ECHA (see second image to the right).

Augmented Alternative Reality Games

People Involved

Lucio Gutierrez

Ioanis Nikolaidis Eleni Stroulia

Sarah Forgie

In the context of the | GRAND NCE, we are developing the fAARS (for Augmented Alternate Reality Services), framework for Augmented/Alternate Reality Services, Games in particular.

  • These games are played in parallel in the real world and in (multiple) virtual world(s).
  • The real-world space is mapped (in some fashion) in the virtual worlds
  • Time may flow faster in the virtual world to explore alternative scenarios.
  • During game play, games can receive and provide data to the game through different type of devices, including QR tags, RFIDs, senors, mobile devices, cell phones, laptops.

On this platform, we plan to

  • study people's mobility patterns in different scenarios
  • different means for localization and navigation strategies
  • collaboration strategies among players as they work with each other in the real and the virtual worlds.

We used the fAARS platform to support the implementation and deployment of trans-reality games in the virtual treasure-hunt and role-playing style. It consists of a set of components, flexibly integrated with its event-driven game engine, through RESTful APIs. So far, we have developed two different trans-reality games using the fAARS platform. The first game was the “Human Geometric Orientation” game. Through this game, players in a virtual world participate in an experiment, designed to study human orientation mechanisms. The second game, “Outbreak: Safety First”, is a “serious game” designed to educate health-science students in precautionary procedures for avoiding nosocomial infec- tions, and can be played in three different game-play modalities.

For two short videos of Outbreak, see Image:Mobile.m4v (where the users are playing Outbreak in the real world) and Image:3d.m4v (where the users are playing Outbreak in the virtual world).

The Bicycle Rehabilitation Game

Bridging our work on the Smart Condo with games in virtual worlds and our exploration of different virtual worlds, a undergraduate student team, mentored by Dr. Stroulia and Diego Serrano, developed a game in Wonderland to help with the rehabilitation of children with Cerebral Palsy.

The game involves a special indoor bicycle, instrumented with SunSPOTs, through which a player can control the movement of an avatar in an Open Wonderland environment using a wheel-mounted Wii remote. The game was developed, in collaboration with rehabilitation therapists from the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, to motivate children with cerebral palsy to go through their prescribed rehabilitation regimens. In this game, the player’s cowboy avatar moves around to gather the dinosaurs that threaten his farm.

Pedalling the bike moves the avatar forward. Turning the handle bars with the Wiimote steers the avatar.

You can see a video of the prototype demo at SunSPOTs-in-WL.

Collaborative Reasoning about Building Information Models

People Involved

Diego Serrano

Eleni Stroulia

The objective of this work is the development of a SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture) infrastructure for BIM management and a virtual world environment for rendering the information captured by BIM and visualizing buildings so that multiple stakeholders, with different interests, can visit and experience them.

For a short video of our early work on BIM modeling in Wonderland, see the IFC Reviewer video.