Daden Unveil Oopal

Oopal (pronounced oo-pull) is Daden’s latest offering: a web-based editor allowing you to place and edit objects in a 2D environment, which will then roll out to the 3D environment (currently OpenSim and Second Life with Unity3D support coming in the next 6 months). Watch this brief walkthrough video to check it out for yourself:

OOPAL Quick Introduction from DadenMedia on Vimeo.

The full press release from Daden:

Birmingham UK, 27th June 2012: Educators and trainers can now create engaging immersive learning exercises more easily and rapidly using an innovative web-based application called OOPAL, developed by learning and visualisation specialists Daden Limited.

OOPAL (Object Orientated Practice and Learning) lets educators and trainers with little technical knowledge use the web to build 3D sets from an existing library of objects, and create, edit and manage the scenarios and simulations entirely from the web. Only when they’re ready to deploy do they need to enter the 3D virtual world and “push the button” to materialise the sets and exercises ready for students to use. With OOPAL, educators – and even students – can create and maintain worth-while learning experiences without needing to be virtual world experts.

Daden have been creating immersive learning experiences since 2008. Built on the success of their award winning virtual learning authoring software PIVOTE, Daden’s second generation system, OOPAL, makes exercise creation and maintenance significantly simpler – making it easier to involve tutors and even students in the design and build process.

David Burden, Daden’s Managing Director says “We found that the easiest way to describe immersive learning experiences was in terms of a drama – thinking about actors and props, the script and their behaviours rather than abstract concepts like nodes and links – and we’ve designed OOPAL to reflect that – considerably easing the process from exercise design to implementation.”

A key feature of OOPAL is that it allows educators to lay out the 3D environment using a simple 2D “kitchen designer” type layout tool. Drawing from a library of props and virtual actors, educators can assign behaviours to each object – how they will react when touched, pushed, spoken to or approached. Dialogues can even be assigned to the virtual actors for use within the simulation. Users can build just a single room or even a whole environment. What’s more – once they have built their set and simulation they can create multiple copies in their virtual world – again at the touch of a button.

Fundamental to the use of OOPAL, within a professional learning environment, is its ability to log and time-stamp every student interaction within the exercise. This can be reviewed within OOPAL, or exported in whole or part to a VLE or LMS. OOPAL also supports scoring mechanisms for in-exercise feedback.

David says “One of the obstacles in the adoption of immersive environments for learning has been the need for educators to be experts – not in their field of study but in building within virtual worlds. OOPAL dramatically reduces that barrier and gives educators and trainers the tools to create real-world learning experiences for their learners in a 3D environment”.

OOPAL can be accessed as a cloud-hosted service from Daden, or installed on an organisations’ own servers. OOPAL currently enables exercises to be developed in both OpenSim and Second Life. Daden plan to release a version for the Unity3D, and a web/iPad player in the next six months.

So what do you think? My initial impression from watching the video is that it would simplify things to some extent though the technical knowledge required is perhaps still a little high for some people. Personally I’ll be really keen to see the Unity version to see what it brings to the fray.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1.  Daden in the UK have released a paper – ‘The Future of Virtual Worlds”, which puts forward some interesting forecasts and issues. I disagree with some of the timelines in particular (I think forecasting out to 2050 for anything is at best fanciful) but it’s certainly a document that could start some useful debates. You can download it here.

2. Composer and conductor Eric Whitacre is making his first foray into Second Life on Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe at 8am on December 5th SL time. As an aside, he’s trying to get 900 people worldwide to form a virtual choir – details here. You have until the 31st December so get cracking.

3. The beta version of Viewer 2.4 for Second Life is now available . Features include an auto-updater, improved preferences menu, graphics improvements and the ability to do scripting in an external text editor.

4. Expat Aussie and ex-Linden Labber Chris Collins has released Canvas, a lo-fi ‘Second Life in a web browser’ offering. Some screen shots and comments from Chris over at NWN.

5. It’s nearly a month old now, but this post by Edward Castranova on the role of virtual worlds and the (mostly) worldwide recession are well worth a read.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. Daden Limited have launched an Apollo 11 simulation that’s well worth spending some time checking out. It features Tranquility Base and the Eagle lander, and “allows visitors to follow the footsteps of Armstrong and Aldrin, whilst looking at the videos and photos they took, and finding out about the science experiments they left behind”.

Start here to make your journey and make sure you download the HUD before teleporting to the lunar surface. Spacesuit is optional (I purchased mine for the occasion, and purists will note it’s not an Apollo suit).

I created a rough machinima on my short space walk without the HUD activated:

2. Treet TV (formerly SLCN) have partnered up with recent Linden Prize winner Studio Wikitecture, to “reate a collaborative building environment for bringing new life to Treet’s studio islands”. There are plans to create a documentary about the collaborative process and its outcome, with an early 2010 release date slated.

3. Second Life-based Australian band SpaceJunky are sponsoring a Grid WideTreasure Hunt:

This treasure hunt is about Science Fiction and Fantasie so there will be everything from Star Wars, Dark Crystal, Labyrinths, spaceships, fairys, and anything else you can imagine!

There will be boxes hidden all over SpaceJunky Island including a SpaceJunky crystal with a special SpaceJunky song in it. Yes that’s right FREE! The crystal will play the song when touched. Crystal Gypsy Designs wil have one too with a special meditation song in it composed by Shakti of SpaceJunky.

The hunt runs between 1st August and 17th August.

IM Bloodhex Squeegee for more info.

PIVOTE – open source learning for virtual worlds

British firm Daden have been releasing virtual worlds products for a while now – we covered their in-world web browser last July. Their latest launch is an “open-source learning system or virtual worlds, the web and iPhone”. Its moniker is PIVOTE and it’s the result of a project called PREVIEW funded by the UK Government’s Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). The project’s focus was problem-based learning in virtual worlds, and PIVOTE is the end-result. Paramedic training for St George’s, University of London was the initial focus that’s led to final product.


Essentially, Pivote is a web-based learning management system where detailed exercises can be formulated as fairly standard, text-driven scenarios with decision pathways, or as avatar driven exercises in Second Life or OpenSim (Daden states its platform can easily be adapted to other virtual worlds). The text-based options can also be utilised in-world via what is presumably Daden’s in-world browser. St George’s have a sim in Second Life (click here to see for yourself) that is publicly accessible.

St George’s Senior Lecturer in Paramedic Science, Alan Rice said “This programme provides the students with a fun learning environment, where they can afford to make mistakes online, which they could not afford to make in the real world. When they make a mistake online, they are always keen not to make the same mistake again.” A paramedic student at St George’s, Fiona Cropp, was happy with the virtual training process – “It’s a really useful tool. It’s much better to be able to actually perform treatments rather than just talk about it. Everyone is online at the same time so you can bounce ideas off each other and make an informed decision. I had never used Second Life before, but I found it really easy to get on with.”

A useful overview of the paramedic training scenario can be viewed here:

Pivote isn’t the first integrated training solution using virtual worlds, but it’s certainly progressed things considerably. The challenge for any platform is convincing key management that scarce health dollars should be sunk into virtual worlds-based training. Health professionals and academics are perfectly positioned to demonstrate just that, and there’s no shortage of evidence of the cost benefits of effectively trained clinicians. Anything that increases the confidence of new practitioners in the breadth of the clinical decision-making in a cost-effective way, will surely gain some traction in what is usually a very conservative space.

Anyone wanting to install PIVOTE for themselves can do so for free by installing it on their own servers or paying Daden to host it for them. The full instructions can be found by browsing the ‘Getting Started’ section of the PIVOTE website.

Daden’s Bot

New World Notes’ Wagner James Au was checking out the new Daden in-world web browser when he had a couple of interesting interactions with a ‘robotar’ although his pick-up lines left a little to be desired.

I spent some time with ‘Abi’ myself and agree that for a bot she’s relatively engaging if you’re happy to talk about Daden products. There are other impressive bots out there but as you’ll see from the snippet below, Abi is single, something the above correspondent wasn’t able to determine 😉

You: chatbot?
abi: It is feasible to run an avatar chatbot over a GPRS or dial-up GSM link, but not advisable. For this reason we suggest making a textbot available for mobile users. Avatars should run OK over 3G networks.

abi: Talk to me!

You: why?

abi: Sorry, I didn’t understand. I can tell you about Daden and our products and services, virtual worlds and chatbots.

You: are you married?

abi: Not the last time I looked.

I’d love to hear what your most amusing bot experiences are, whether they be in Second Life, World of Warcraft or elsewhere…

Second Life web browser launched: Daden Navigator

UK-based virtual worlds outfit Daden Limited have released a web browser for use in Second Life. Their press release:

The first publicly available web browser for Second Life was launched today by virtual world consultants Daden Limited. The browser, called the Daden Navigator, allows residents of the virtual world to collaboratively browse the web, sharing one web screen between users who may, in real life, live on different continents.

Technology introduced by Linden Lab a couple of months ago allowed residents for the first time to view web pages live within Second Life – however they could not click on any links to surf from one page to another. Daden Navigator now lets residents do this – surfing the web collectively in the same way that Daden’s recent Google Maps viewer allowed residents to share Google Maps within the world.

Daden MD David Burden says “Daden Navigator provides all the functions that you expect to see in a normal web browser. It lets you set a home page or a bookmark, view bookmarks, and has back, refresh and search buttons. It is as close as you can currently get to a normal web browser in Second Life”.

To use the browser a resident just rezzes it onto the land they own. They can then use Second Life’s text chat facility to browse the internet. Simply entering the url of the website in chat will automatically bring up the relevant page onto media screens within their SL space. To follow a link from that web page to another the user just “says” the name of the link, or some unique keywords from it. The new web page then loads.

You can purchase the Navigator here and we’d be interested in hearing from anyone who uses it.

Check it out in-world.

Wow factor: Google Maps in Second Life

UK virtual world consultants, Daden Limited have created an amazing build in Second Life that directly leverages Google Maps content. The visuals say it all:

The NPIRL and Digital Urban blogs have more info as well.

With multiple mirror worlds in development and work like this being done, can you imagine how interesting booking a holiday is going to be in coming years?

Check it out in-world and thanks to Meta Linden for the heads-up.

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