MPEG-V step #2: A Call for Technology Proposal for Standards in Virtual Worlds

Here’s an update on MPEG-V – our efforts to create standards for virtual worlds and real worlds (as you may recall I’m involved in Metaverse1 which is one of the leading forces behind MPEG-V).

Here is our time table:

Step Status Due Date Description
1 Done 2008/10/17 Final version of Requirements / Call for Proposals
2 Now 2009/01/28 Proposals due
3 Future 2009/02/01 Evaluation of proposals (in an Ad Hoc Group meeting)
4 Future 2009/02/06 First draft of MPEG-V WD
5 Future 2009/04 Working Draft
6 Future 2009/10 Committee Draft
7 Future 2010/01 Final Committee Draft
8 Future 2010/07 Final Draft International Standard
9 Future 2010/10 International Standard

MPEG, a working group in ISO/IEC, has produced many important standards (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MPEG-7, and MPEG-21). MPEG feels that it is important to standardize intermediate formats and protocols for “Information exchange with Virtual Worlds”, MPEG-V in the areas of “Data representations between virtual worlds” and “Data representations between virtual worlds and the physical world”.

The intended standard for ‘Information exchange with Virtual Worlds’ will adders these areas (see also the illustration below):

• Area1: Data representation between virtual worlds and the physical world
• Area2: Data representation between virtual worlds
• Area3: Real world data representation

The standard will be based on an overall architecture that can be instantiated for all the foreseeable combinations of virtual worlds and real world deployment

MPEG has produces “MPEG-V Requirements Version 3”. Based on these requirements MPEG would like to be informed about technologies that satisfy them.
All parties that believe they have relevant technologies for MPEG-V are invited to submit these technologies for consideration by MPEG.

Parties do not necessarily have to be MPEG members. The review of these requirements is planned in the context of the 87th MPEG meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. Please contact Joern Ostermann (ostermann@tnt.uni-hannover.de) for details on attending this meeting if you are not an MPEG delegate. The submissions shall be received by the 28th of January, 2009 23.59 hours GMT, by Joern Ostermann, chair of the MPEG Requirements sub-Group, (ostermann@tnt.uni-hannover.de) who will upload all proposals both by MPEG and non MPEG members to the MPEG site after the submission deadline.

You should read all the details of the call for MPEG-V Call for Proposals.
And you can also access the current “MPEG-V Requirements Version 3.”

Brands in Second Life – a good example – Orange Island

In an earlier post, I spoke about Brand – Why the came and why they left. One brand that really care about heir brand is Orange.

Orange, a key brand of France Telecom Group, is running Orange-Island.
A key factor in their program is an holistic approach to the new media that embrace community and creation.

Their creation program is called — surprisingly — Create:
As part of an ongoing endeavour to share and collaborate with the Second Life communities, Orange launches the Create Programme, an initiative that aims at encouraging creative expression on Orange Island.The idea is quite simple: Orange offers to support artistic and/or innovative projects by granting land and tools to residents who show promising material in order to help them achieve their project. We have selected three spectacular projects for this first batch of the Create Programme.

Brands in Second Life — Why They Came why they Leave?

http://youtube.com/v/tEGHJuCbGdo
These brands came in 2007 the likes of Reuters, BMW, Sony BMG and Ericcson, BigPond, Reebok, Vodafone, IBM, ABC TV, Showtime, Pontiac, American Apparel, Virgin, Dell, NBC, Apple (unofficial), Sears, Circuit City and AOL. (see source)

So why did the came:
It is cool to see your branded store in 3D. You can allow your users to interact with your products in new ways. They can talk about your products in new ways. Users can bring their friends and talk about the products; users can test the products; they can even design a product and feel the service.
So why did they go away:
Well, most of these firms are no longer in Second Life (or no longer in a meaningful way). Reasons include: a lot of work to have a maximum of 40 avatars. A simple web site can deal with 400,000 users. Difficulties to turn visitors into sales. Difficulties to connect second life into web and real commerce systems.
Yet… I want to remind people that it was probably difficult and not very productive to build the first web site of Amazon. It takes time. Virtual Worlds as a medium need to mature. We should not expect to gain “internet” value with the current level of maturity.
For a good example I would look at http://www.orange-island.com/. This firm seems to take it slow, learn the topic, experiment.

Real Virtual Worlds SOS (State of Standards) Q3-2008

In the latest issue of the Journal of Virtual Worlds I had the opportunity to capture the essence of our work on standards for virtual worlds, why they are so important, and how we are going about it.

The purpose of this think piece is to call for inputs for an emerging worldwide effort to develop standards for virtual worlds. Such inputs will go into the build up of MPEG-V (Moving Picture Experts Group Virtual Worlds Standard) in the next three years. The MPEG group is part of the International Standards Organization (ISO). (This is a short summary of a presentation I gave in the Virtual Worlds London conference in October, 2008).

The entire paper is here.

Here are my assumptions from the paper:

1. Virtual worlds are destined to become big, in the sense of meaningful, influential, and making money for various current and new players. Every aspect of our lives will be affected by virtual worlds. Virtual worlds are not only going to be part of our lives, they are going to enhance, improve, and better our quality of life. Much like the Internet, virtual worlds will allow us to do “older” things more effectively, and do other things anew.

2. Real virtual worlds are defined as an integration of four factors: 3D view of the world, community, creation, and commerce (3D3C). The more we have in these factors the closer we get to real virtual worlds. In that sense IMVU, Second Life, and Entropia are more real virtual worlds than Club Penguin, World of Warcraft, and SIMS online.

3. Standards, as a concept and mechanism, are often misunderstood. People often link standards with competing concepts: open and free on one hand, propriety patents and limitation of creativity on the other hand. Like many other human constructs, standards are not inherently good or bad – it is what you do with standards that gives them value, be it good or bad. (see my model for standards).

4. Currently the virtual worlds industry operates more like the computer gaming industry than the Internet industry. Each developer, be it private (e.g., Linden, Forterra) or an open source (e.g., Sun Darkstar, OpenSim) is developing its own server, client, and rules of engagement. The inherent rationale of these efforts is a combination of “we know best” and “we will conquer the world.” While this may be the case (see Microsoft Windows, Apple iPod, or Google Search), the common public good calls for a connected system like the Internet where different forces can innovate in particular spots of the value chain.

5. On a personal note: I have a specific take on this work that should be disclosed. I am part of the EU based Metaverse1 project. It is a consortium of 35 organizations mostly based in Europe to set “Global standards between real and virtual worlds.” This work will feed into the previously mentioned MPEG-V effort. Having said that, the efforts to develop standards for virtual worlds are just starting. It will take time. At this point, we are defining the path. We have a long way to go.

The entire paper is here.