Bound to Happen

May 13, 2008

We got our name mentioned by Wired on an article on… Virtual Sex… That was bound to happen: put cameras and internet together, throw human drive in it and what do you get? Well, that’s a market for sure, a “vertical” (though… in that case…) and Second Life hasn’t really prevented it to blossom. At least that gives us some idea for our next video…

I mentioned the paper to Mitch and that was met with lots of eyes rolling up the ceiling and hands waving in a “no, no, but what can we do…” fashion. So, for those following the progress of the Segalen project, I’m afraid to report that, if you ever want to see our technology applied to this, you’re gonna have to hack the code yourself… Sorry…



Bound to Happen on One Fell Swoop by The Spill Canvas, an “alternative rock” band from South Dakota. What’s “alternative rock” my friend Gina Arnold once asked? To which I offered my own definition: “alternative rock is : one good song, one bad song, one good song, one bad song, one good song…” 

April 13, 2008

I’m really not your post-crazy blogger type: I’ve been mentioned in the NYT and I still haven’t blogged about it… Tss, tss…

Well, it’s interesting to throw something in the public and see what comes back at you: absolutely not what was expected. The “holodeck” metaphor certainly never crossed my mind a second: where’s the 3D projection? And if you don VR goggle, why would you need a camera to track you? Inertial tracking in VR goggles works since decades now and some very smart folks have made it work within SL already in what they called SL as a Platform for Augmented Reality.

Well, it’s nice to see that this is capturing so much interest anyway. Trying to make things easier for everyone following the project though, I’m going to answer some of the questions I received directly on the HandsFree3D blog.

HandsFree3d Video and New Website

April 11, 2008

Last month I blogged about a new project I started mid January with Mitch Kapor. We made great progress in 10 short weeks and we have a pretty good set of demoable code coming out now. I promised then we’ll be doing some video demos. The first of those went live this morning here.

We also put together a small website called handsfree3d, dropping the confusing “Segalen” code name in the process (too bad, I kind of liked it… o well…).

More videos will be coming in the next few weeks and I’ll be blogging at handsfree3d, answering questions and requests as much as I can.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Segalen – A Keyboard free Second Life

March 3, 2008


So, since this fateful day of January 15th (see OSAF 2.0 and me), I’m now a full time employee of KEI (Kapor Enterprises, Inc.) and working on a project code named Segalen (picking its name from Victor Segalen for the curious) in Mitch Kapor’s “incubator”. That is to say that I’m basically working alone on the technical stuff and with Mitch on the idea, business aspects and everything else.


The objective of the project is to dramatically change the way users interact with online virtual worlds. The online world (or metaverse or MMO or whatever you want to call it…) in question for this project being, of course, Second Life.


For the moment, the Segalen mission is simply summarized in that short sentence:


Keyboard free Second Life!


That’s it! That’s what we’re trying to create. I’m hacking the open source slviewer and implementing different ways to interact with SL (navigate, change camera focus, initiate animations, interact with objects) without ever having to learn those weird and complicated navigation keyboard sequences (Alt-zooming anyone?) and, above all, allowing users to naturally interact in world without having to do everything with one single pointer (the mouse) and a handful of keystrokes.


To do so, we started exploring the use of new “3D” cameras, those capturing not only RGB but also depth or distance to the camera for each pixel. This makes the tracking of body features in real time much easier than simple “2D” cameras. In the first weeks of working on it, I was able to hack enough into the slviewer code to plug in a camera and start interacting within SL without the use of the keyboard. Things started working “for real” 2 weeks ago and Mitch got a little excited and spilled the beans at the Metaverse Roadmap meeting in Stanford.


I had to work extra hours over the following weekend to make the “segway” navigation he talked about work and, on the next Tuesday, I made a first demo to the whole KEI staff. That was received with cheers and applause. It felt great though, clearly, there were a lot of challenges ahead.


Since then, I completed the whole navigation UI: walk, turn, fly, jump, crouch, etc… It’s really cool and demos amazingly! It’s also a true different feeling being around SL with your own body (so to speak) instead of being tied to this darn keyboard.


Next on my list: direct interaction with objects inworld. I’ve some pretty cool ideas already and can’t wait to get enough code in there to start playing with them. The object edit code though lies in a completely different (and unknown to me) part of the source tree… Well, I guess I’ll get there as I did with the other part (navigation). 


In short, I’m not done yet but making daily progress. I wanted to keep things quiet but I saw that some people are starting to pick up on Mitch’s story so I wanted you to hear what’s going on from the horse’s mouth. I don’t know exactly when I’ll be done with everything I want for a first really knocks-your-socks-off demo (if something like that ever existed) but I think it will be weeks rather than months. Optimism is  required in this kind of job!

OSAF 2.0 and Me

January 16, 2008

I’m late to the announcement list and I’m shamelessly borrowing Ted’s post title of the same subject. I won’t go over the why and what and how of OSAF’s restructuring, well covered by Scott Rosenberg’s post.

On OSAF’s future, it’s clear that having a much smaller team and burn rate does actually increase its chance of survival: more nimble and more agile, it’s now better scaled to imagine a sustainable business model, one that can indeed pay the staff and keep the project going. I’ll be continuing promoting Chandler on my end, recruiting users and, more importantly using and contributing to the product, ’cause, in the end, that’s the only thing that counts for an Open Source project. The idle comments of Monday morning Technology Pundits (no link, I don’t want to point fingers…) won’t change that basic fact.

On my future, I’m moving back to graphics with a Second Life related project. I’m starting today working with Mitch on this (no details for the moment). So, no worry about my immediate future. I’m actually incredibly excited by this new project. Right now, I’m trying to get up to speed on Second Life Open Source client. Since I’ll be working quite by myself in this new project, I guess I’ll have more urge to vent and talk about stuff on this blog than I did on Chandler (where most of my writing was done on the mailing lists and OSAF’s wiki).

Chandler on Scoble

October 12, 2007

So, we made it on the Scobleizer blog. If you have 50 (!) minutes to spend, the video is making a pretty good tour of the product though I feel that Chandler does much more (the Quick Entry widget and its capacity to parse natural text is the most underrated feature in Chandler IMO) and that the “email as a conduit”, though mentioned, will not be captured correctly by viewers. Well, that should motivate me to blog on those aspects, shouldn’t it? 🙂

Anyhow, this blog post translated into a nice spike in the number of Chandler downloads, proof that Scoble’s blog is much more read than mine (thanks for coming however… 🙂 ).

As for the bizarre comment someone left of Scoble about the Church of Scientology, I just wanted to assure my worried family and friends that there’s no relation of any kind between OSAF and that cult (considered as such in France for sure). I’ve no idea where this guy got the idea though I have to admire how he phrased it, a sort of master piece of libel.

Chandler Preview… and more!

October 5, 2007

That’s funny: for a long time, I was preventing myself to post here because Preview was not out, now, Preview has been out since a month and I still haven’t posted anything yet… and we just branched and created RC1 of 0.7.1!

“Already” you might say but actually, the reason why we’re releasing an update is not so much because of the staggering amount of bugs we fixed or the new features (actually this new release is rather nible on that respect…) but rather because we decided to switch to a “scheduled releases” strategy. Gone the days you had to wait for months for a new version of Chandler! Now you’re going to enjoy a new crisp freshly baked Chandler every month!

We had quite a bit of discussions on the subject and we’re quite pleased with this new plan. It’ll make us more nimble, agile and, hopefully, more able to change course according to users feedback… this is where you come in 🙂

So, yes, time for you to download Chandler and let us know where you think we should focus our efforts.