Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Prototyping 3D Designs in Second Life

Our last class was a blast as we explored how to model our ideas using Second Life's built-in creation tool.

Our goal was to review everyone's project ideas, identify the desired behaviors for these models, study examples of analogous problems and identify how to blend what we know into a prototype that analyzes one or more properties of the innovation design.

Our activities included:
  • Build and deform some primitive shapes
  • Texture
  • Adjust the shiny, transparency and glow settings
  • Modify a particle script
As a warm up exercise, everyone created a sphere, cut it in half, hollowed it, and studied how to set one facet or side of it to glow.

Student project ideas focused primarily on two categories: hovercraft and the future of medicine. For hovercraft, we discussed the requirements for simulating movement, noting the 31-primitive (prim) limit for objects that use Second Life's Havok 4 physics system. If a vehicle can carry 5 passengers, it can have no more than 26 linked primitives or shapes - each avatar that sits on it counts as one primitive.

As we began to plan a hover car prototype, we considered how avatars would sit in them and how to design it to support the behavior of novice users. This led to a discussion of shape and common vehicle characteristics. Rather than develop a new paradigm for hover craft travel and traffic patterns, we elected to preserve the behavior of today's motor vehicles in this design.

Next, we explored sample vehicles, discussing how avatars sit in them and how to plan the orientation of each avatar. The class tested various poses for orienting the driver and passengers in the vehicle.

As we discussed the link order of the hovercraft, the students debated the usefulness of making the passenger or the driver the root prim.

Several students demonstrated hovercraft using one of the sample vehicles from an earlier class. At this point, several students flew off into the sunset and two students remained to complete their prototypes.

We modeled different designs for a medical device and discussed how nanoparticles might look as they moved through it. Our prototype featured a laproscopic surgical tool with particles flowing through it to simulate the nanoparticles.

The final prototype was modeled over two sessions and used some evolutionary designs. It began as an encompassing medical diagnostic tube derived from Vanilla Jessop's Genie Chair design and it evolved into a futuristic diagnostic and treatment center.

As we examined how it would be used, the integrated entertainment center concept came to mind. One day, a family might watch television from within the entertainment center. As the program is projected around their bodies, the medical diagnostic system would analyze their health and offer diagnostic advice. Advanced models would include treatment for minor ailments.

This has been a wonderful class and I will miss you! Share your research with the world and do not forget to keep in touch. *smiles and waves* Congratulations to the students who are graduating! Live long and live well.

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