UPDATED! Wonda VR: A Brief Introduction

Shades of Indiana Jones…

Wonda VR is an educational social VR platform that seems to be targeting the corporate and higher education markets. Here’s an example used by NYU social work students:

It would appear that most, if not all, of the use cases listed on their page of higher education examples involve 360-degree video.

An interesting use case on their enterprise page uses the platform to help train police officers on how to interact with autistic people:

While Wonda VR does offer a free, limited option, it would appear that they are steering customers toward their US$350-a-month option for up to 50 users, billed annually:

You have to submit your email, name, position and insitutional affiliation to the company to get an invitation to experience the Free level, so I sent everything off, crossed my fingers, and I’ll let you know when I do hear back. I expect a strong-armed sales pitch will be coming my way, but if Wonda VR thinks they can shake US$4,200 from my lint-filled pockets, they’ve got another think coming.

In fact, just this past Thursday, Wonda VR offered a free webinar to learn more about using XR platforms to boost collaboration and creativity, name-dropping a mix of platforms that I had already covered on this blog, and a few that I had never heard of before (time to put on my pith helmet and go exploring in the jungle again!):

I’m actually kind of sorry that I had to miss this (but last Thursday was just a crazy day for me, working for my university library system from self-isolation at home, with lots of online Zoom and Webex meetings).

If you would like to learn more about Wonda VR, you can visit their website, or follow them on social media: Twitter and LindedIn.

UPDATE April 6th, 2020: Well, today I got an email with a sign-in link (and thankfully, no sales pressure, just an invitation to contact the company if I were interested in taking it further).

I wanted to share a 3-minute getting started video they shared with me, which I think gives you a bit of the flavour of what Wonda VR can offer:

If you’re interested and you want to learn more, check out the videos on their YouTube page.

Oxford Medical Simulation: A Brief Introduction

Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS) is an educational virtual reality platform for training healthcare professionals in world-class patient management using virtual patients, without risking lives. Here’s a video that explains the concept briefly:

This is one of those environments where the virtual patients have that sort of creepy, uncanny valley aspect to them: realistic looking, but something is not quite right (to me, it’s the eyes; real eyes are slightly translucent, as I wrote about here, not opaque like billiard balls):

That’s not creepy, that’s not creepy AT ALL

Despite the off-putting uncanny valley avatars, OMS has racked up a truly impressive list of clients, including the National Health Service of the U.K. and (of course) the University of Oxford:

Oxford Medical Simulation offers not only on-site VR training, they also offer distance learning for medical professionals. In fact, the recent global coronavirus pandemic has been an unexpected opportunity for the company to promote their platform, with OMS offering free distance training to healthcare providers in three countries:

We appreciate how hard it is to deliver simulation and clinical education at the best of times, let alone during a crisis. As simulation educators, the team at OMS have experienced the chaos caused by last-minute clinical cancellations and the need to rapidly deliver simulation to fill the gap.

This same phenomenon is now happening on a global scale. In response, OMS immediately offered the OMS Distance Simulation platform free across the US, Canada and the UK as of March 16th, 2020.

Since May 16th, over 50 institutions – with over 17,000 learners between them – have signed up. Many have started utilizing the platform already and many more will start over the coming days. This is being done across all levels of medicine and nursing and for many different use cases:

Nursing programs (BSN and NP), unable to deliver clinical placements; 
Medical programs (DO and MD), fast-tracking their learners for clinical practice;
Hospitals, up-skilling clinicians moving between departments;
Health systems, rapidly bringing in new nurses and retraining clinicians returning to practice.

Aside from the generous offer of free courses for doctors and nurses, no pricing information is provided on their website for the platform, just a contact form to ask for a sales representative to contact you (and I’m quite sure that this platform is not cheap!). If you want more information on OMS, please visit their website, or follow them on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The other thing that I cannot seem to figure out, either from the website or the promotional videos, is whether or not OMS is truly social VR. Can you share these experiences with other avatars at the same time, like a group of doctors and nurses working as a team on a virtual patient during surgery, for example? Because both Road to VR and well-known VR YouTuber Nathie both lumped Oxford Medical Simulation in with dozens of other social VR apps in their overviews (which I blogged about here), I am going to make the same assumption that they obviously did, and I will be adding OMS to my comprehensive list of social VR and virtual world platforms.

Sinespace: Congratulations to the Winners of the Carnival Games Contest!

Punkerella’s Carnival Fishing Game

Bibbi and Punkerella are the winners of the Sinespace Carnival Games Contest, winning first and second place respectively! Contestants were challenged to create a unique and engaging mini-game using the Sinespace SDK and Lua.

The First Place winner is Bibbi for Western Shooting Gallery, winning a prize of USD$5,000 (available in the Sinespace Shop for 999 Gold).

Bibbi’s Western Shooting Gallery

Here’s a short interview with our winner Bibbi:

Ryan: How did you come up with the idea for your Western Shooting Gallery?

Bibbi: Simply put, it was the first thought I got when thinking of a carnival game, which was just a basic booth where you shoot moving targets.

Ryan: How long did it take to create your game, and what tools did you use?

Bibbi: It took about a month, to a month and a half. The obvious tools would be Unity, and the Sinespace SDK, then on top of that (as far as I remember) GIMP and Blender.

Ryan: What advice would you give to other content creators who want to create games in Sinespace?

Bibbi: Keep on learning, it never hurts, and who knows what will come of it.

Ryan: What do you plan to do with your prize money?

Bibbi: Not sure yet, there are many things I’d like to do, but I’m trying to resist that temptation of spending it all in 1.5 seconds. But if you must know what’s on the list, it’d be to get 4 monitors and go with a multimonitor setup (2 on each side of my 40″ tv) lol, a NAS storage system as my computer is at max capacity on HDD space (It has 6 internal and 2 external, totaling 10 terabytes) lol, and possibly a resin 3D printer.

One thing I plan on doing, though, is help my friend upgrade his laptop to a mini-itx build, as that thing can’t play any new game as of like 6 years ago, which barely gets more than 10-20fps for Minecraft. Hopefully I can build him one better with his money and some of this money!

Punkerella wins USD$2,000 for her Carnival Fishing game (also available to purchase in the Sinespace Shop for 999 Gold).

Punkerella’s Carnival Fishing Game

I asked Punkerella the same questions:

Ryan: How did you come up with the idea for your Carnival Fishing game?

Punkerella: Well, the game was a made by two of us. I do the art and design, Booradley does all the hard bits like coding and animation. He came up for the idea for this one, I think it was the game idea that seemed like the most fun for him to make. But we wanted a game that was not based around guns or shooting, and that would not feel intimidating to most people.

Ryan: How long did it take to create your game, and what tools did you use?

Punkerella: We actually started it a day or two after they extended the contest deadline, since before that we had decided we were two burnt out from the “Out of this World” contest to dive in again so soon. So spare time for around a month, I guess. Boo used Unity, and I used mostly 3d Coat, Unity, and a little bit of Gimp and Maya.

Ryan: What advice would you give to other content creators who want to create games in Sinespace?

Punkerella: Advice around working in Sinespace is a tricky one, I have answered that in a few places a few different ways. But really it very much depends on what their background is.

My advice to people who have never done virtual world content is quite different from my advice to someone who has never used Unity. If you are a designer coming from Second Life, Unity itself is likely to be your biggest hurdle. So just understand that your first item will likely take several days or even a week of tutorials and trial and error.

Obviously, it is pretty quick and easy to get clothing, accessories, furniture, etc… once you wrap your mind around how it works. But you need to learn about Unity’s layout, Sinespace pack and components, colliders, and of course the rough resolution and content guidelines that will let your things through moderation.

Just know that you are learning something that will take you a few days, but will give you a great deal of flexibility and freedom once you get there.

Ryan: What do you plan to do with your prize money?

Punkerella: We plan to buy the kids each a nice Lego set and probably put the rest of the money in an account where we are saving up to go to Disneyland. (Obviously much in the future when we can leave our houses again!)

Congratulations to all the contest entrants! Watch for new contest announcements coming soon!

This blogpost is sponsored by Sinespace, and was written in my new role as an embedded reporter for this virtual world (more details here). It was originally published on the official Sinespace blog, here, on April 2nd, 2020.

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: The Stay at Home Club

If you’re in the market for high-quality freebies, have I got a website for you!

It’s new, it’s called The Stay at Home Club, and the club’s founders state:

First of all, we would like to take this chance to thank everyone for all of their time and effort, it is very much appreciated! Let’s spread the love! ♥

We are a group of designers based on the City of Neon Dreams at the HILTED region. During one of the harder times in everyone’s real lives, we came up with the idea to gather a set of gifts to offer to people for free. Together we stay strong and in times like these we need each other.

Originally the City of Neon Dreams team wanted to create a collection of gifts to offer to people, but we decided that it would be a good idea to involve other designers. The more the merrier! We started talking to a few friends and shared our ideas with them, that resulted in so many positive vibes and reactions that we decided to start The Stay at Home Club.

We are open for designers to sign up to share gifts and share the love even more, free gifts for all in those difficult times might distract people for a bit and give them something to enjoy during those hard moments.

And more and more Second Life content creators are joining by the day! The Stay at Home Club organizes its freebies into four categories:

  • Animations and Poses
  • Apparel
  • Avatar Accessories
  • Home and Garden

I’ve already blogged about a free female Bento mesh head available from the Club, but today I wanted to show you a selection of other gifts for both men and women. (You can obtain the SLURLs to visit these stores from the Apparel page on the website, just click on the picture to pull up the Second Life map location.)

First up is the M.CO Paul turtleneck, which comes in a fatpack of colours:

This sexy blue tank top is the Stay at Home gift from the TwoSided store:

Next, let’s look at some gifts of women’s clothing. Look at this lovely white long-sleeved Fae minidress from Salt! (It comes in a Maitreya Lara size only.)

Entice has two Stay at Home gifts, including this beautiful, daringly low-cut purple blouse, called Never Surrender (the other gift is a bra and panties set),

Finally, Poème offers La Rose Blouse, perfect for casual wear with jeans, perhaps puttering around in your garden:

So please stay home during the pandemic, flatten the curve, and pay a virtual visit to the Stay at Home Club! There are literally dozens of outstanding, well-crafted freebies for you to claim, with more being added every day!

Happy freebie shopping! Here’s the website.