Virtual World Usage at NASA

August 7, 2009 at 10:48 am | Posted in Catalyst09, Gaming, virtual worlds | Leave a comment

There were many great presentations at Catalyst this year, but the most fun for me was Charles White, Virtual Worlds Lead at NASA JPL.  In my presentations on enterprise virtual worlds I’ve talked about the usage patterns for virtual worlds (including visualization, rehearsal, and enhanced conferencing), the characteristics of virtual presence, whether it will ever hit the mainstream, and one has to look beyond Second Life to understand their true value.  All of these points were addressed and demonstrated by Charles.

Here are some notes (and links now that I’ve had time to hunt down the web sites he mentioned):

  • Charles showed images of the use of mirror worlds for science data visualization
  • Described NASA World Wind.  It’s a Google Earth-like tool for visualizing science data
  • Virtual reality is used to rehearse space missions
  • They also use it to visualize an exploding star
  • They use immersive synthetic environments as well – he showed an air traffic control tower with screens instead of windows
  • All major airlines have purchased simulators and pilots have to certify simulator time before they can fly.
  • 3 legs of value: immersive, communication, visualization
  • There’s a one third scale virtual model of the Mars Victoria crater
  • CoLab island is used for weekly meetings
  • Hyper-Reality by 3DInternet is an example of non-Second Life virtual world usage.  One example he gave was practice with installing a transformer
  • Will every company use it?  No, but those who need to inspire, innovate, participate will
  • Interesting presence comment from an attendee at a virtual launch event: “This is the first time I’ve been to a NASA event”.  Made the person feel like they were there.

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