Thursday, November 29, 2007

Serious Games & Dual Reality: Interplay Between Real & Virtual Worlds

Commonalities between SGI and Dual Reality Lab

My fellow Blogger Sven Johnson has left a new comment on my post "Serious Games Combining Mobile Learning & Virtual ...", which addresses the Serious Games Institute (SGI) partnership with Cisco and Giunti Labs to turn all of Coventry University into a meshed real-world/virtual-world learning environment.

Since I utilized the above visual as the opening illustration, he has swiftly recognized the picture “
The Dual Reality Lab” and asked if there was a connection between Lifton’s work (Joshua Lifton, Responsive Environments Group - MIT Media Lab) and the SGI effort.

My immediate (and “jumping to conclusion”) response was:

“You are absolutely right! The picture does belong to The Dual Reality Lab. However there's no connection between the two efforts (to my best knowledge, at least). The picture is simply the best visual I could find to represent the SGI initiative, where students at Coventry can activate educational content based on their physical movement across the real campus or the digital movement across the virtual campus.”

I believe my today’s earlier response deserves a revisit: there are more commonalities between the two efforts than a great picture.

“Dual reality" is the concept of maintaining two worlds, one virtual and one real that reflect, influence, and merge into each other by means of deeply embedded sensor/actuator networks. Both the real and virtual components of a dual reality are complete unto themselves, but are enriched by their mutual interaction.

The dual reality concept, in turn, incorporates two key ideas – that data streams from sensor networks are the raw materials that will make media creation as trivial as media consumption and media communication, and that online 3D virtual worlds are an ideal venue for the manifestation of the content generated from such sensor data streams.

Instrumenting the real world with a sensor/actuator network is a necessary step toward enabling a dual reality. Just as microcontrollers can be found in nearly every type of electronic device manufactured today, sensors will soon be embedded in every part of our environment.

The next step in Coventry's plans to create a smart campus by 2010 is to make the real world and virtual world interoperable with position matching across the worlds. The SGI hopes to help students telecommute with avatars positioning themselves next to real people.

After all, maybe there are dual reality promises across the board.