Keeping in touch in a long-distance relationship

One thing I love about tech innovation competitions is some of the cool things thought up by young and/or inexperienced entrepreneurs. One such example is Pillow Talk.

Conceived by Joanna Montgomery, the concept is fairly simple. A sensor is worn by both individuals and then…

Apparently the idea has won some investment money, so expect to see some glowing pillows in a bedroom near you. It seems a potential winner to me.

The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. Gamasutra – GDC: Emotiv Knows What You’re Thinking. “On Thursday at the 2008 Game Developers Conference, Julian Wixson and a small panel of associates described and demonstrated the Emotiv headset and SDK, suggesting how a developer might incorporate the technology into a new or even quite finished production. The svelte Emotiv headset uses an array of sixteen EEG sensors to detect electrical impulses in the scalp. These signals are then interpreted by a suite of tools, each with its own range of applications”.

2. Tech.Blorge – The government begins plans to monitor World of Warcraft. “If you’re a die-hard World of Warcraft player, you probably aren’t too concerned about having your online identity known by others; how would you feel if you knew that big brother was monitoring your MMO action? The U.S. government is beginning a program that will monitor the most popular online MMOs so as to identify terrorists online”.

3. – Virtually Divorced From Reality. “It started with World War II games on the computer. He would spend hours flying jets, fighting the Germans. And then his interests changed. “I’d wake up in the middle of the night, and he’d be at the computer looking at women’s pictures,” said Jennifer of her ex-husband. “It was lonely for both of us.” Her ex became far more interested in his fantasy online virtual world, with its endless supply of pornography, than in his real family”.

4. BBC News – Virtuality and reality ‘to merge’. “Computers the size of blood cells will create fully immersive virtual realities by 2033, leading inventor Ray Kurzweil has predicted. Exponential growth in processing power and the shrinking of technology would see the development of microscopic computers, he said”.

5. Information Week – Turning Work Into Play Is No Game. “It sounds like techno-utopian silliness to say that businesses need to learn from online games how to make tedious knowledge-work more enjoyable. But many knowledge-work jobs are so deadly dull that the typical worker lasts just nine months — in call centers, for example. Extend that by a few months, and businesses stand to save piles of money, said Byron Reeves, a professor in the department of communication at Stanford University”.

6. BBC News – Virtual and real blur in Eve Online. “Virtual worlds are becoming increasingly rich and diverse environments with complex social and economic eco-systems. Science fiction trading game Eve Online is one of the most dynamic worlds, with its own economists helping players get to grips with the intricacies”.

7. – Home is “best-looking multiplayer world”. “The creative director of Sony’s Home project has told in an exclusive interview to be published in full next week that he believes the PlayStation 3 virtual world platform is the “best-looking” and most “user-friendly” multiplayer experience he’s seen so far. Talking on a recent trip to Monaco for the Imagina conference, Ron Festejo explained his feeling that other virtual worlds, such as Second Life, were garish, while other online experiences were simply too hardcore for most people”.

8. ZDNet – Solving the Virtual World Interoperability Problem. “Despite the popularity of Second Life, there are in fact several such services on the market today. Enabling interoperabilty between There, Entropia Universe, Moove, Habbo Hotel, and Kaneva could go along way towards promoting the Virtual World industry. IBM researcher Ian Hughes’ excellent post poses the question of what that interoperability might look like”.

9. Mediaweek – Disney Goes Virtual Kids’ ‘Studios’. “Disney has announced the formation of Disney Online Studios, a new division within the Walt Disney Internet Group focused on virtual worlds, gaming and social networking initiatives aimed at kids. The announcement comes as the company’s latest virtual world, the young girl-aimed Disney Fairies Pixie Hollow, was previewed during Toy Fair in New York on Feb. 19”.

10. ZDNet – Is open source giving Second Life a second life?. “Linden Labs, whose Second Life is so cool yet so lacking in profits it’s been lampooned in an IBM ad, sent out an e-mail alert this week boasting that open source is giving the company, well, a second life”.

The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. CNET – Mitch Kapor: 3D cameras will make virtual worlds easier to use. “Mitch Kapor, like many people, is well aware that virtual worlds are often very difficult to use. The founder of Lotus 1-2-3, who also happens to be the first investor in Second Life publisher Linden Lab and its chairman, spoke at the Metaverse Roadmap meeting here today on the topic of what can be done to make using virtual worlds a better experience”.

2. CNN money – IBM Launches PowerUp, a New Free 3D Multiplayer Virtual Science Game for the Classroom. “IBM (NYSE: IBM) is launching a free multiplayer online game, PowerUp (, challenging teenagers to help save the planet “Helios” from ecological disaster. The game is part of IBM’s TryScience initiative and will be launched at Engineer’s Week 2008 opening on February 16 in Washington, D.C. The game, which can be played alone or together, features a planet in near ecological ruin where three exciting missions for solar, wind and water power must be solved before sandstorms, floods or SmogGobs thwart the rescue”.

3. The Emory Wheel – Emory Conference Discusses New Reality of Virtual Worlds. “With graying hair, a grizzled face and a penchant for bow ties, Benn Konsynski, professor of business administration at Goizueta Business School, doesn’t fit the typical stereotype of an online gamer. But you should never judge a book by its cover: Konsynski takes his games very seriously — and he isn’t the only one. In fact, on Monday, Goizueta was filled with a variety of people from across the nation — academics, businessmen, tech enthusiasts and IT professionals — who all share the belief that gaming is much more than child’s play”.

4. Government – Blogging the Virtual Government.”Not long from now, we will make laws, set policies, write regulations and create programs by first “playing” the likely consequences in synthetic worlds, says Anne Laurent, longtime observer of federal management and creator, just this year, of a new blog, “The Agile Mind.””.

5. Kotaku – Hello Kitty Online Detects No Sarcasm. “Hello Kitty Online hopes to transport its players into a world of sweetness and light. A world without hate. A world without fear. A world, apparently, without a sense of sarcasm. This morning I was pointed towards the main page for Hello Kitty Online, which features a quote I swear I’ve read before”.

6. – The Pitfalls Of Online Role-Playing Games. “How would you change your life if you could simply flip a switch? If you could start it all over again, what would you do differently? Thousands of people are doing just that — in the virtual sense. Byork and Alyssa are young, attractive millionaires — married for less than a year. Byork made his fortune in the stock market and has retired at the ripe old age of 36. Alyssa, a former runway model, met Byork at a local dance club, and three week later, they were engaged”.

7. Terra Nova – Organising Virtual Events. “On the 18th December 2007 Twofour Learning and the Beyond Distance Research Alliance at the University of Leicester launched the Second Life Media Zoo project. The Island showcases a range of learning initiatives put forward by the Beyond Distance Research Alliance and is intended as a learning and research platform, aimed at gathering data on social interaction, behaviour and the importance of learning within a virtual 3D environment”.

8. Second Life Herald – Second Life Economy is in a Recession. “After the banking ban, there are commentators who state that the Second Life Economy is in a recession and then there are the opposing commentators that say that the Second Life Economy is not in a recession”.

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