Friday, January 20, 2006

New low security prison in Netherlands with new electronic bracelet type technology

"The hi-tech jail in the central city of Lelystad opens, and locks, its doors to low-risk inmates this week.

Electronic bracelets track their moves while emotion recognition software monitors tempers - with good behaviour rewarded with privileges.

The justice ministry says the concept is a new form of detention."
via bbc

I would like to get a closer look at these bracelets. They could be useful as a self-awareness tool for non-prisoners, ie citizens living outside of prisons...
Specifically interested in their emotion recognition technology. Are they just monitoring heart beat rates or do they have something more sophisticated in place?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

More advanced avatar systems developed for use with IM

IMSTAR hails itself as the next generation of instant messaging.
It's approach is to complement traditional IM with customizable 3d avatars and a currency system. Now that's a refeshing new apporach, and i'm beginning to think, "The Sims" influence is reaching out into other domains.

IMSTARS differs in approach to other avatar supplying companies like weeworld as it is doing 2 things instead of one, although you could argue 3. It provides IM, it proviudes an avatar for each user and a virtual world with a simple currency system to enable and stimulate transactions, both emotional and purchase oreintated. Weeworld has stayed with focusing on the avatars themselves while integrating their system into other communities and platforms, eg, integrated onto mobile phones and email. I think their is plenty of room for them both. On the horizon expect to see google/yahoo/microsoft want to enter this arena as let's face it. We all have multiple identities and it's nice to have a richer visual of that beyond the classic "upload .jpg, 50 pixels x 50 pixels, no alrger than 50kb".

So here's a brief list of things i noticed (forgive me for the self-evident:
- integration with AIM instant messaging platform
- standalone program (looks like its flash-based)
- 3-dimensional characters (female characters only as far as i could see which is a bit weird, there's now a girl called james9)
- editable characteristics - "edit my face", "edit my body","look in my closet"
- characters get a currency to buy/sell and trade (excellent idea)
- character can perform actions, you drag an action onto your character,
for instance("smile", or "raggamuffin" = dance to your favorite music. also you can access this by typeing *raga* in your chat window. this is cool.
- clothing items have shelf life ie they wear out, so you need to pay to repair them.
- buddy list instant messaging functionalities including, "add a buddy", start/stop chat", "shareimstar".
- view items in a variety of ways
- sell clothes back to shop

other observations:
- It has a unique interface and visual design. (i'm not sure about the bright green although that's a personal preference.
- You can manipulate your character in 3D!, although I couldn't touch my ass.
- I really like the way you can easily try on all your clothes and execute acitons.
It's intuitive drag and drop. eg drag dress onto your body, or an action and character responds
- Had no buddies online to test chatting so i cna't comment here.
- Offline clothing manufacturers are experimenting. I was able to try on Babyphat clothes for 20 minutes. Fantastic cross-over idea and daring that a clothing line repurposes their clothes for virtual worlds. They have apparently made a whole babyfat line available for avatars.
- Target audience must be young women, but what about men? did i do something wrong here or is this only available in female avatar form?
- Interoperability: AIM (please get that on Skype and Jabber,etc).
- They are moving into MySpace...wonder what the uptake will be?