One of our senior engineers has a colleague who is part of the Outsmart team, a company here in Auckland, New Zealand that develops unique Rich Internet Applications (RIA). He showed me a new web based 3D virtual world called SmallWorlds that Outsmart has developed.
Once I got my beta invite (and some time in the early morning to have a play) I was able to quickly build my avatar, shop to buy some furniture for my new home, play games, watch YouTube videos on my flat screen or sit and chill and admire my personally designed art work.
If you are interested in giving SmallWorlds a whirl...email me at email@example.com (it is a closed beta) and I will email you a beta invite (put in your subject header: "smallworlds beta invite".)
I was able to catch up with Darren Green, Technical Director for Outsmart, and ask him a few questions:
- How did your concept evolve for Smallworlds?
SmallWorlds has evolved from several product ideas we have been considering over the past 18 months. We (Outsmart - the company behind SmallWorlds) have been designing and building products for numerous Web 2.0 start-ups, and through this process have been in an ideal position to get a feel for when the convergence points were forming for web applications and services.
SmallWorlds evolved from several products we were considering to build:
- sharing and realtime communications applications (groupware)
- game building and sharing platforms
- and several ideas around social networking applications.
- Who is the target market for Smallworlds?
Being a convergence product, SmallWorlds has several target markets that we hope to cover. Our primary demographic would have to be users 15-30 years of age who like socializing on the net, but we intend to cover a broader range than this by including casual games and group collaboration capabilities.
- What will a user find when they come into Smallworlds?
An easy to use, yet powerful avatar builder. A room builder where you can create your own perfect socializing and entertainment space. We have virtual shops full of items and widgets (such as Graffiti Canvases and YouTube TVs), and there are plenty of spaces to explore. We are in the early stages of a private beta presently so the options currently available are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is yet to come.
- Adobe®Flex™Builder™ 2 is now free for education institutions. Do you foresee that skills in this area is something students in senior/high school could/should focus on?
We see Flex as being one of the most advanced and powerful application development platforms available today. Combine that with the ubiquity of the Adobe Flash player (the virtual machine that Flex applications run in), and the explosive nature of the Web 2.0 phenomenon, and you will see (as we do) that Flex Development will become one of the most highly demand skillsets for graduates in the coming years.
- What other skills could you suggest to students if they were looking to get into this field?
Modern applications are bringing together both technical and graphic/visual design skills. Having some exposure to tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash is definitely an advantage.
Here is my avatar just hanging out listening to music in the public chat lounge.
Shopping for furniture (you start with 1500 tokens) for my new "digs."
Starting to setup my virtual home with the some of the furniture that was purchased from the Modern Living furniture shop.
Navigation and the user interface is very easy to use and get around in. I see a lot of education applications where SmallWorlds could apply....I look forward to further discussions with the developers to see how this can be implemented.