Wolf3D’s Ready Player Me Creates a 3D Avatar for Mozilla Hubs from a Selfie

Some examples of avatars created using Ready Player Me

Wolf3D, a company that specializes in making personal 3D avatars for games and virtual worlds, has released a new browser-based program called Ready Player Me. Ready Player Me allows you to create a personalized 3D avatar for use in Mozilla Hubs, using as your starting point a single selfie from your cellphone or webcam!

(You might remember Wolf3D as the creators of a mobile app called Virtual You, which High Fidelity released to create a 3D avatar for use on the now-closed social VR platform. This app was withdrawn from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store when HiFi essentially ceased operations on Jan. 15th, 2020.)

Using Ready Player Me could not be easier. Simply visit the website, click on the blue Create Avatar button to get started, and take (or upload) a selfie. You are then given an array of options to change your skin, hair, eye and eyebrow colour, and hairstyle, facial hair, shirt and eyeglasses. After only a few minutes, here is what I was able to come up with:

Once you are satisfied, just click the checkmark in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, and it saves the avatar, giving you a URL which you should bookmark somewhere for later use and re-use.

To use your newly-created avatar in Mozilla Hubs, open a world, click on the three-bars menu in the upper left-hand corner, and click on Set Name & Avatar:

On the Name & Avatar screen, click on Browse Avatars:

On the Browse Avatars screen, click on Avatar GLB URL in the upper right-hand corner of your screen:

Enter the URL you received from Ready Player Me, and click Accept:

That’s it! Here’s what my customized avatar looks like in Mozilla Hubs:

I am hoping that we will see Wolf3D-made avatars pop up in other social VR and virtual worlds! It’s such an easy way for somebody to create a personalized avatar.

P.S. Starting with this blogpost, I have created a new category called Mozilla Hubs, since I find myself writing about this platform more often. I will try to go back and add my older blogposts about Mozilla Hubs to this category, but that is going to take a little time, so please bear with me!

Advertisements

Lessons Learned from the Educators in VR Conference

Lorelle VanFossen, one of the organizers of the wildly successful six-day Educators in VR 2020 International Summit, recently wrote up a very detailed blogpost outlining the experience of setting up and running a virtual conference on AltspaceVR and four other social VR platforms.

Here’s a link to the entire article on the Educators in VR website, and I would very strongly encourage you to read it in full. However, I will highlight just a couple of things that the Educators in VR group co-founders Daniel Dyboski-Bryant and Lorelle VanFossen, and their hard-working team of volunteers, learned along the way.

Their original plan was only to have 40 to 60 speakers, but that ballooned to 170 speakers in over 150 events spread over 6 days (happening at time zones around the clock for a global audience). Because everybody volunteered their time and energy for this free-to-attend event, the total costs for the entire six-day virtual conference were only around US$300! (Try doing that for a real-world conference!)

Most of the events were held in AltspaceVR:

As our home-base is currently AltspaceVR, we worked with our Educators in VR team and the AltspaceVR events team to ensure our event spaces would be safe and high performance to accommodate a variety of devices. While other virtual social and event platforms are usually limited to 20-50 attendees, AltspaceVR could be easily coaxed to larger room numbers and features the Front Row tool that allows for the mirroring of events spaces, allowing hundreds to thousands of attendees to view the experience from separate identical event spaces, improving overall user and device performance. Accordingly, we hosted the majority of our events in AltspaceVR.

In fact, the team behind AltspaceVR learned so much from hosting this conference that they just announced a slew of new features, including links to Patreon and EventBrite to allow for ticketed events in future!

I’m sure that many new users were introduced to AltspaceVR because of the Educators in VR conference, and both parties benefited from the partnership! The summit also gave ENGAGE, Rumii, Somnium Space, and Mozilla Hubs an opportunity to show off their platforms to those who never experienced them before, too.

Other conference organizers were quick to take note. HTC decided to have its annual Vive Ecosystem Conference in ENGAGE. And both Mozilla Hubs and AltspaceVR were used for the recently concluded IEEE VR 2020 conference, which, for the first time, was held entirely in virtual reality (and opened up for free to the general public) due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Hearty congratulations to Lorelle and Daniel, and a special shout-out to Donna McTaggart, the tireless Summit Coordinator and Manager, and her team of 75 volunteers!

I leave you with a one-and-a-half hour YouTube video where the organizers share what they learned behind the scenes, a must watch!

Lorelle ends her article by saying that they are now taking what they have learned from running the Educators in VR Summit and making that expertise available to others as consultants:

We’re developing training courses to help you produce your own virtual events of all sizes. The Educators in VR team is already providing consultation services to companies exploring virtual meetings and conferences, and negotiating production of virtual conferences and workshops for a variety of companies globally. We planned on taking our time, but with the demand for alternatives due to the COVID-19/coronavirus, we’re stepping up and into this as part of our range of services for working with business and academia to integrate virtual technologies.

If we can assist you, please contact us for more information.

The IEEE VR 2020 Conference March 22-26 Will Have a Free Online Experience Via Social VR

The recently-concluded Educators in VR 2020 International Summit was proof that you can indeed run an entire six-day conference in social VR! So I thought I would use this space to promote another VR conference which, while not being held completely in virtual reality, will have an online component via social VR. And the best part is, the online experience is completely free! All you have to do is register.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers‘ (IEEE) Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (IEEE VR for short) is the premier international event for the presentation of research results in the broad area of virtual reality. This year, the conference runs from March 22nd-26th, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia.

As part of the IEEE’s long term goal to increase the sustainability and accessibility of the conference, this year IEEE VR 2020 is hosting a collection of online social virtual spaces for people who cannot travel to Atlanta during the week of March 22-26th. These web-based 3D spaces will be accessible in traditional web browsers on most devices, and in VR via WebVR. This experimental track is IEEE VR’s first step toward future conferences adding even more meaningful remote experiences for people who are not able to physically attend the conference.

The conference organizers will be live streaming video of the technical paper sessions and keynotes (information will be available on the VR website closer to the conference). Taking advantage of these streams, they are creating 3D social spaces for remote participants to co-watch the talks with others, socialize and meet each other. They also plan to use these 3D social spaces to host a virtual poster session (for a subset of the posters whose non-attending co-authors would like to present remotely).

All of the online activities this year will take place synchronously with the real-world conference, which will generally be 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST during the week of March 22-26th, 2020. (And let’s hope that the coronavirus epidemic does not scuttle those plans!) A complete program overview is available on the official IEEE VR 2020 conference website.

The IEEE will use a customized version of the Mozilla Hubs social VR platform to host a collection of virtual rooms for people who cannot physically attend the conference. Participants can join the Hubs rooms from any web browser, using 2D screens or immersive VR displays. The conference site is located at https://hubs.ieeevr.online, and will be available to all registered conference attendees.

These rooms will include spaces to co-watch the conference video streams in small groups, visit a virtual poster session running synchronously with the live poster sessions at IEEE VR, and social rooms for remote attendees. Anyone may register for the remote experience and join other remote viewers in the shared 3D spaces, discuss the talks and posters and meet other remote attendees.

The IEEE’s goal is to increase access to the conference for remote participants who would otherwise be unable to attend due to mobility impairments, chronic health issues, temporary travel limitations, or a choice to reduce their impact on the environment due to carbon emissions from long distance travel.

Participants access the Hubs rooms by visiting https://hubs.ieeevr.online, and logging in with the email address they used to register for the conference (see information below on how to register). The IEEE will require all remote participants to register for IEEE VR on the main registration site (at no cost) to gain access to the hubs virtual spaces.

The IEEE is using their regular conference registration system to register for the Online Experience.  Please note that registration is required to gain access to the Hubs server (at https://hubs.ieeevr.online) and the VR 2020 Slack server (used by both local and online attendees to chat about the conference).

To register for the online experience, use the main registration website for the conference. Fill out the registration form via the “Click here to Register” button on http://ieeevr.org/2020/attend/registration.html and select only the “Online Experience” on the final page (Registration Items). Some of the questions (such as whether you need a Visa Letter and Dietary Restrictions) are only relevant for people attending in person, so you can select “No” for the Visa Letter and ignore the Dietary Restrictions selections.

The IEEE will be uploading the registration list to the hubs.ieeevr.online system and to the Slack invitation system (https://ieeevr-slack-invite.glitch.me/) at regular intervals leading up to the conference.  They will post updates to the http://ieeevr.org/2020/online/ website about social and training sessions with the online system, over the next few weeks.

In addition, the IEEE VR 2020 conference is looking for volunteers to help run the social experiences. If you are interested in remotely participating, and would like to help make this a great experience for everyone, please consider volunteering! To sign up as a possible volunteer, please fill out this form:

Hope to see you there!

Photo by stephan sorkin on Unsplash

Editorial: Why It’s Time to Change How I Cover Social VR and Virtual Worlds On This Blog

My blogposts about Second Life are far more popular than those about Sansar

I am only a couple of blogposts away from my next milestone on this blog: 1,500 blogposts. And it’s probably as good a time as any to calculate some quick statistics on what topics have proven to be the most popular in the two and a half years I have been blogging about (as I state in my blog’s tagline) “news and views on social VR, virtual worlds and the metaverse”.

My coverage of the various social VR platforms and virtual worlds has been quite uneven, with most of my blogging focused on three metaverse platforms to date:

  • Sansar (the reason I started this blog in the first place)
  • High Fidelity
  • Second Life (with a focus on freebies)

Of my Top 100 most viewed blogposts since I started this blog on July 31, 2017, you might be interested to learn:

  • 36 were about Second Life
  • 10 were about virtual reality in general
  • 9 were about Sansar
  • 7 were about VRChat
  • 5 were about High Fidelity
  • 4 were about Decentraland

What I find interesting is that there is absolutely no correlation between how often I cover a social VR/virtual world on my blog, and how popular those blogposts are. For example, I write about VRChat much less often than I do about Sansar, yet the VRChat posts are more popular overall. I have written less frequently about Decentraland than High Fidelity over the years, yet more people tend to visit my blogposts about Decentraland.

All this has led me to do some thinking about making changes to what I write about on this blog. In particular, I want to put more effort into covering those platforms which:

  • show consistently higher levels of usage according to publicly published statistics such as Steam, or
  • show higher levels of reader interest based on my own WordPress statistics, or
  • show reader interest based on how often they are discussed on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server.

What this means is, going forward, I will be starting to pull back on my formerly heavy coverage of both High Fidelity and Sansar. Both the concurrent usage statistics from places like Steam, and my WordPress stats, tell me that people don’t seem to be as interested in those platforms, so why am I continually writing about them? I do not kid myself that I am going to be able to convince people into visiting platforms like Sansar and High Fidelity via my blog, and frankly, it’s not my job to do their promotion for them. I should be writing more about the state of the metaverse as it currently exists, and spend less time trying to encourage people onto less popular platforms. Therefore, I think it’s time to reign in my coverage of Sansar and High Fidelity.

(As a side note, one of the first changes I see in Sansar, since last week’s announcement of a new focus on live events, is that the number of Product Meetups has been cut in half, to biweekly from weekly. Of course, if you don’t expect to have as many new features coming out in future client updates, it makes perfect sense to have fewer Product Meetups, where those features tend to be discussed. Daily Community Meetups have also been cut to Mondays and Wednesdays.)


Also, I will start paying more attention to those platforms which meet at least one of the three criteria I have mentioned earlier:

  • Second Life (which is clearly still the most popular part of my blog)
  • VRChat
  • Rec Room
  • AltspaceVR
  • Decentraland

My coverage of Second Life will now expand a little bit from the initial focus on Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies, in that I will be commenting more on a variety of topics relating to SL, particularly more announcements of changes to the platform by Linden Lab, and more editorials.

I will also start to write more often about other platforms which I have visited too infrequently, in an effort to even out my coverage of social VR/virtual worlds and provide a better overall picture of the evolving metaverse to my readers:

  • Sinespace
  • Somnium Space
  • Cryptovoxels
  • NeosVR
  • Mozilla Hubs

And, whether or not I am invited to participate in the closed beta early next year, I will of course be writing extensively about Facebook Horizon!

I realize that this decision might be a disappointment to both Linden Lab and High Fidelity (or, perhaps, a relief, given how I have criticized both Sansar and HiFi in the past). But I think it’s time to adjust my blog to the current market realities, much the same as the companies themselves have seen fit to make significant changes this year.