Fashion Research Institute Announces Science Sim Land Grant Program Awardees

New York, NY November 1, 2011 – Fashion Research Institute Announces Science Sim Land Grant Program Awardees

Fashion Research Institute has been collaborating with Intel Labs since 2009, helping to push the limits of content development, and overseeing the Science Sim Land Grant Program. The program consists of awards of campuses of four ‘supersized’ 3D volumes called regions, which can support 100,000 primitive units. These campuses are awarded for a six-month period to educators, scientists, and researchers who wish to explore using OpenSim for their work, and who need the power and control of their projects that a campus provides them.  The campuses are provided for nine months beginning September 1, 2011 and ending June 30, 2012.

We are pleased to share the 2011-2012 awardees, in alphabetical order.

The Abyss Observatory (http://chikyu-to-umi.com/abyss/) The Abyss Observatory is a museum of earth science, undersea technology and also Sense of Wonder for the mysteries of Earth & Life in 3D virtual world, established mainly by Japan and US volunteers, supported by SciLands, NOAA, JAMSTEC, Open University UK and Science Circle.

“Earth system science research fields are spread world-wide and far from human habitation.  To gain a better understanding of global issues, visualization in immersive virtual world is powerful tool.  Our students can develop observation methods of virtual environment phenomena or law of physics easily, cost-effectively and safely,”says Hajime Nishimura (JAMSTEC, http://www.jamstec.go.jp/).

The Cyprus University of Technology Chrysanthos Voutounos is a doctoral student at the Department of Multimedia and Graphic Arts in Cyprus. His research work negotiates the design of serious virtual and multimedia applications that deal with the presentation and preservation of Byzantine heritage. The Byzantine heritage of Cyprus is globally known and many monuments on the island are included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, like the monastery and the museum of St. John Lampadistis which Chrysanthos aims to design in ScienceSim as part of his research.

My main research objective is to design and evaluate a virtual museum of Byzantine art applying methods that will enable a cross-cultural and cross-aesthetic mediation of Byzantine Aesthetics; providing a meaningful mediation of Byzantine artifacts and a spiritual experience to users.” Said Chrysanthos Voutounos.  “The opportunity given to implement this work on ScienceSim ensures the serious concept of a virtual heritage project; ScienceSim platform hosts a unique of its kind research on virtual worlds (1000 avatars on a region, security of digital content and other achievements). Many thanks to Intel Labs and the Fashion Research Institute for their support!

The EdLab Group Foundation (http://edlabgroup.org ) Hypatia World is supporting and expanding the reach of the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) in a 3D virtual environment. Hypatia World provides a safe space for the 5.3 million girls in the NGCP network to access online activities and participate in collaborative projects. The NGCP is committed to informing and motivating girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). NGCP currently supports 21 Collaboratives, serving 31 states to provide support and local resources to STEM practitioners. Hypatia World will host the first 3D virtual Collaborative, providing an online place for the girls and their mentors to interact and participate in STEM activities and events. Through collaborative relationships with partners such as NASA, quality content will assured.

Project Manager, Lindy Orwin, explained, “Hypatia World will provide opportunities for girls to access online mentors and 3D content expanding the opportunities for networking and support for girls interested in STEM and keeping them interested in STEM.”

The Honor Engine (http://www.honorengine.com/) The Honor Engine has created a customizable set of tools built for quest based learning and game development into the virtual world.  The Honor Engine Toolset allows educators, content developers and game designers complete control over their content . The goals of The Honor Engine are to explore the potential uses of quest based learning in education for children and for the workforce. Already well established in SL as the HONOR Roleplay System, the Honor Engine is now expanding their toolset into OpenSim virtual worlds.

Our key focus in moving The Honor Engine into the ScienceSim is to provide a toolset for educators and other creators to scale their interactive content with simple interfaces, quick content creation and adaptation and easy to access metrics to help them define success.”   Bill Jobes, owner and creator of The Honor Engine.  “Quest-based learning that is teacher planned and driven is what the Honor Engine provides. Teachers will be completely free to set up learning scenarios to suit their students  needs. The students play to learn and learn as they play. Classrooms full of students can work together in the virtual world increasing their content knowledge, their literacy skills, and their 21st century skills, all of which will be vital to their success throughout the rest of their lives.

The Oregon L5 Society( http://www.oregonl5.org/) Oregon L5 Society ( ORL5) is using some of their 25 years of research into using planetary caves as centers of human activity on the other worlds of the Solar System as models in virtual worlds. These concepts can be explored in ScienceSim, where ORL5 is creating VW lunar lavatube cave bases and settlements, and similar asteroidal and Mars bases.

These are conceptual models of how such human activity can settle the Solar System in real life.

We use these virtual world projects to contact other researchers, educate the public about how human spaceflight can become more widely affordable, and model specific projects we can then promote to the Space Research community more effectively.” says Tom Billings (Oregon L5 Society Representative).

Meta-Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA) Meta-Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA) (http://mica-vw.org/) is the first professional scientific organization based in virtual worlds.  The goals of MICA are to explore the potential uses of immersive VR as a scientific and scholarly platform.  Already well established in SL, MICA is now expanding their activities into OpenSim worlds.

Our key research goal is to develop novel techniques and applications for immersive, collaborative data visualization,” says the MICA Director George Djorgovski, a professor at Caltech.  “Scalability is important for massive data sets, and that is one of the main reasons we are in ScienceSim.”  He adds, “Effective visualization of complex, multi- dimensional data is emerging as one of the key challenges for the data- driven science in the 21st century.  As we continue to move our work and collaborations into cyberspace, immersive VR may become a fundamental platform for scientific research.

Preferred Family Healthcare (http://www.pfh.org) Preferred Family Healthcare has been delivering counseling services in virtual worldspace for the past three years and it is on the forward edge of organizations using OpenSim and Jibe/Unity for these purposes. PFH will continue to explore the potential for delivering mental health and substance use disorder services to clients who experience accessibility challenges due to distance, time, travel, physical handicap, social phobias and other complications.

PFH intends to continue to be a leading innovator of technology utilization to make accessible behavioral health interventions available to all who need them,” notes Dick Dillon, Senior VP at Preferred Family Healthcare. “Challenges which have existed for decades are being resolved by the smart application of global connectivity tools. We believe in the potential of virtual world-based service delivery systems, and several pilot projects are already showing excellent results for client retention and participation, with treatment outcomes as good or better than traditional methods.”

Science Circle. The Science Circle is an alliance of Scientists from various disciplines dedicated to connect scientist and students worldwide. We use digital mediums like Second Life® to hold seminars and we are starting in 2011 with various courses for our student group.

“The Science Circle wants to offer our members the possibility to discover OpenSim. Like MICA we are convinced that 3d platforms based on OpenSim are a great tool to offer education. The Science Sim Land Grant program is a great initiative that enables us to do that,” says Agustin Martin on behalf of the Science Circle.

BIO-SE project (Biological Interactive Objects for Science Education)The goal of the BIO-SE Project is to create interactive learning modules targeted to the high school or college freshman biology curriculum. Its primary aim is to have its learning modules be instructive but also designed for first-time users of virtual worlds. Lesson planning and instructor resources will be created as well but do not necessarily require faculty to be conversant with using virtual worlds. The core lessons all come from biologists who have multiple years of experience teaching in Second Life and developing course content there.

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About Fashion Research Institute, Inc.: FRI is at the forefront of developing innovative design & merchandising solutions for the apparel industry.  They research and develop products and systems for the fashion industry that sweepingly address wasteful business and production practices.

Science Sim is part of an evolution toward online 3D experiences that look, act and feel real. Sometimes dubbed the “3D internet,” Intel Labs refers to this technology trend as immersive connected experiences, or ICE. ScienceSim is differentiated from most virtual world environments by its open source architecture. ScienceSim leverages open source building blocks (installation utilities, management tools, client viewers, etc.) based on OpenSimulator (OpenSim) software.

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Fashion Research Institute Oversees a Third Round of the Science Sim Land Grant Program with Intel Labs

New York, NY August 8, 2011 – Fashion Research Institute Oversees a Third Round of the Science Sim Land Grant Program with Intel Labs

Fashion Research Institute is pleased to announce the third round of OpenSim region grants in the ScienceSim grid. We will administrate the land program through our research collaboration with Intel Labs.

We’ve been provided with a set of regions running on hardware that can support 45,000-100,000  primitive objects with up to 1,000 concurrent users per region.  The regions will be awarded for a nine-month period beginning September 1, 2011 and running to June 30, 2012 to educators, scientists, and researchers who wish to bring their programs into an immersive collaborative environment.

There are no hidden charges or costs to this program other than what a selected organization is expected to need for the transfer and development of their programs, and which they negotiate with their service providers.  There is no financial assistance available for this process.  We can accept and transfer existing OAR files into ScienceSim.

Commercial organizations and consultants are not eligible to apply for these regions. Recipients must sign a formal legal agreement with Fashion Research Institute for use of these OpenSim regions. This agreement includes clauses stating that the recipient organization will respect the  existing Term of Service, End User licensing Agreement, Region Covenant, and Content Licenses of the ScienceSim grid.

The Fine Print

Each accepted organization will receive a 4-region, 2×2 ‘campus’ from September 1, 2011-June 30, 2012. Organizations must appoint a single user, who will receive estate manager privileges on this campus.

Campus assignees have full land right privileges.  Regions must remain open to common access to enable visitors to freely move around and visit.

Assigned campuses must be built on within three weeks of assignment.  Land which is not improved within four weeks of assignment will be reclaimed, and any objects placed in the region will be returned to the land assignee.

A content library of premium content is provided to all participants on ScienceSim.  Additional content is provided as well.  This content may not be removed from ScienceSim. Suspect pirated content brought into ScienceSim will be removed immediately. All content provided for ScienceSim users is PG-rated.

A complete OpenSim orientation gateway which has been successfully used with more than 65,000 new users is provided for the use of land grant recipients and their program users. A scripting lab is provided for recipients to learn how to develop OS scripts. Additionally, there are meeting, classroom, and sandbox spaces provided throughout the common space of the grid in the physics and math plazas which land grant recipients may freely use.

Expected Code of Behavior:

ScienceSim serves a population of educators, researchers and scientists.  Land grant recipients are expected to register with their real names and to manage their programs appropriately.

All users are expected to behave with decorum and respect to others to support this collaborative, interdisciplinary working environment.  Services are provided in English only.  All users who enter and use this grid are expected to behave and dress in a manner appropriate to a corporate or academic setting.  All users are expected to respect others’ beliefs; no solicitation, proselytization, foul language or harassment of any sort is allowed here.  Clothing is mandatory – this means at minimum, shirt and trousers that meets typical community decency standards.

Land grants are provided with an expectation that users will have sufficient expertise to develop their own regions.  There are weekly user meetings at which user experiences can and should be reported, as well as a mailing list where feedback is encouraged.  Lastly, there is a weekly governance meeting at which any conflicts will be arbitrated.

Participation

To participate in this land grant program, please send e-mail to admin@fashionresearchinstitute.com with your name, your organization, and 2-3 sentence description of the project you’d like to explore in this collaborative environment.  The program has rolling admissions and we will accept applications until we have assigned all campuses.

Past Awardees

Previous awardees are eligible to apply for this program.  Previous recipients have included the Abyss Observatory, the IDIA Lab, ScienceCircle, Meta-Institute for Computational Astrophysics, and Utah State University.

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About Fashion Research Institute, Inc.: FRI is at the forefront of developing innovative design & merchandising solutions for the apparel industry.  They research and develop products and systems for the fashion industry that sweepingly address wasteful business and production practices.

Science Sim is part of an evolution toward online 3D experiences that look, act and feel real. Sometimes dubbed the “3D internet,” Intel Labs refers to this technology trend as immersive connected experiences, or ICE. ScienceSim is differentiated from most virtual world environments by its open source architecture. ScienceSim leverages open source building blocks (installation utilities, management tools, client viewers, etc.) based on OpenSimulator (OpenSim) software.

Backstage Action at Runway 3.0 and Virtual Runway™

Not all the action takes place on the catwalk at a runway show.  In fact, all the preparation goes on backstage whether for a physical runway show or a Virtual Runway™ event.

We arrived in Buffalo at the Peirce-Arrow Building shortly before the first show, at 4 pm, so we missed the initial madness of hair and makeup.  We did, however, get pressed into service before the 9 pm show, where the models had to be fully prepared for the catwalk.  We had one of our other interns, Heather, join us to help backstage in getting our other two interns, Britt and Missy, ready to go.  Big thanks to Heather for jumping right in to help! Later she joined us front row for the show itself.

Both Britt and Missy opted for additional body makeup for their models, so that meant a little extra work in applying gold foil and rhinestones.  Eyelash glue is a godsend! Britt applied crushed gold foil selectively to the faces and bodies of her models, and Missy opted for rhinestones applied on the faces and in lieu of necklaces. Here we see one of the models with her necklace half-applied:

Each of Missy’s three models had a different design on both face and for the necklace.  Stunning!

Britt’s models have gold foil application well under control:

Here we see some of Britt’s models in the foreground, with Missy’s models up on the risers.

In stark contrast to physical runway show, preparing for the Virtual Runway™ presentation was a snap.  For one thing, avatar models do exactly what you tell them to, and the clothing always fits!  Plus, adding additional makeup options is very easy; we created custom makeup and skin tones for all nine of the interns’ models in less time than it took for one real life model to be made up…and we didn’t have to do retouches.

Once the models were dressed and their hair, makeup and shoes chosen, they lined up and just….waited…for their cue to strut the catwalk.  This is of course, very different from the swirl backstage at the students’ physical show. One might almost say it was serene.

Dressed and ready to go in our private OpenSim-based Fashionable Grid™: They await a simple command to strut their stuff on the catwalk .  Once we had the avatar models queued up and dressed, then we brought the students in to watch before we shot video for the screen at Runway 3.0.  The avatar models allowed the students to see their work before their physical runway show.  It was a great experience with them, since runway is usually a very expensive and gruelling experience. In comparison, Virtual Runway™ was a breeze with our students selecting from more than 800 billion customization options for their models.  they got exactly what they wanted on the runway, when they wanted it.  Tomorrow: Virtual Runway™ videos of the student interns’ work.

We are currently accepting applications for our Summer internship program. We have space for 5 more students. To apply, please send email to admin at fashionresearchinstitute.com by June 1, 2010 for Summer 2010 semester.

Preparing for Runway 3.0 at Buffalo State University

Runway 3.0 was held May 1st, and showcased the work of student designers at Buffalo State University, Buff State alumni, and local designers.  Runway, as anyone involved in the industry knows, is time consuming and laborious work, often rife with drama and with ample opportunity for mistakes. At the same time, as any fashion designer will tell you, it is often the physical representation of their hopes and dreams for a given collection.

We had the honor to work with a pair of Buffalo State University students who presented their work at Runway 3.0.  These students, Brittany Chonka and Melissa Marchand, interned with us over the last year, courtesy of Professor Elaine Polvinen.  They presented their work both on the physical Runway 3.0 catwalk as well as on our virtual version of their catwalk in our Virtual Runway™ product.  The video of their virtual work was shown on a large screen behind their physical world runway models.  We were invited to attend as honored guests, so we have imagery from both the preparation for their shows, as wella s fromt he actual runway.

Prepping for a show for an apparel brand starts almost as soon as the last model has whisked off the runway and the designer taken her bow.  Inspiration is sought, muses may be applied to, and the work of creating a fully fledged runway production starts.  In the physical world, after all the sketching is done, production starts on the runway samples, models are signed, hair and makeup designed and all of the machinery of a fully fledged production goes into motion.

Our interns came out to visit and spend a week finishing their physical collection. This is Missy, modeling Britt’s finale garment, while Britt finalizes the placement of her lighting:

Missy modeling another of Britt’s pieces. It was not as cold as it looked.

One of Missy’s pieces, modeled by of course, Missy.  The rhinestones were in fact, as much of a pain to apply as you might think, since they are backed with a thermoformable adhesive that requires hand application. In the factory, of course, they’d have a trim setup and be applied in one pass, but fr the sample, we used a prototyping technique.  Missy did a great job!

and last, the set for the interns’ Virtual Runway™ set in Fashionable Grid™:

Once the physical prototypes were done and turned in for grading, we finished the virtual apparel, and designed the models from the tips of their toes to the tips of their hair.  We’ll show that process tomorrow.

We are currently accepting applications for our Summer internship program. We have space for 5 more students. To apply, please send email to admin at fashionresearchinstitute.com.

FRI Student Interns Take Manhattan: Day Three!

The Sourcing List

Since the FRI interns had a long and grueling day the previous day, we got a later start on Friday.  No one seemed to be in a big hurry to finish up breakfast, served in the sun-drenched family room (a definite advantage in wintery New York).  Nevertheless, we finally got ourselves loaded into the car for our hour-long drive into the City.

The trip flew past as we talked the whole way about fashion and careers, interrupted occasionally to point out areas of interest.  As we crossed into Manhattan over the Harlem River, Britt and Missy became quite excited.  Mecca for fashion designers was at our fingertips!  Dropping the car at a convenient lot, we started our long day of sourcing and more.

First we visited the FIT campus, which is a block-long street of school buildings.  We dropped into the FIT Museum, which had three exhibits currently installed.   We did a whirlwind tour and made sure to pick up all the exhibit brochures.  Both interns found something to interest them in the American Beauty exhibit.  Missy was thrilled about the evening wear; Britt was fascinated by the use of furs and leathers.  Upstairs in the revolving exhibit space, both fell in love with the early fashions.  Britt was particularly enamored of the late Victorian style clothing on display, while Missy found a length of Luminex fabric on display which captivated her.

Departing FIT, we cut across on 29th Street and popped into a couple of the event planning/party stores to source some less common trims and textile substitutes.  Often just knowing things are available will change a designer’s vision, so we were trying to expose the interns to as wide an array of products as possible.

Heading up 6th Avenue, we took in the import district, with the wide array of costume jewelry, hair supply stores, and hosiery importers.  As we crossed into Herald Square, we stopped for the ‘perfect’ shot of the Empire State building framed by the buildings on either side of 34th Street.  then we tackled Macy’s.  We didn’t have a lot of time, so we quickly walked the windows and then cut in through the main cosmetics floor and did a whirlwind visit of the “Aisles of Beauty” followed by a quick visit to the accessories, handbags, and watches.  Both declined visiting the Louis-Vuitton boutique claiming it would be ‘dangerous to their wallets’.

Heading back to 6th Avenue, we headed north to M&J Trimmings and the other bead and trim stores on 6th Avenue.  Finished there, we walked up the Avenue to Bryant Park and the tents for Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week.  It was oddly quiet, with only a few ready wagons pulled in on 6th Avenue, and a remarkably small cluster of paparazzi and visitors.  The usual gaggle of ‘models waiting to be discovered’ were very much not apparent and there was a decided lack of black cars dueling it out to deliver their passengers to the red carpet.

We’re not sure if the lack of energy was due to the poor economy or simply because when a party is over in New York, it’s over, and every trendster knows it and refuses to get caught dead at a venue that’s outdated.  Perhaps the fact that the party is moving uptown in the Fall contributed to the poor turnout; all we can say is that at 2 pm on a Friday afternoon on a relatively clement winter day, there weren’t even the usual park goers hanging out to ogle the passers-by.

Departing the tents, we dove into the rag district for the real reason for the visit: sourcing!  First stop was Leather Impact, where Brit found two skins with minor blemishes (both goatskins, one with a lovely soft golden metallic spray finish, the other a very soft 1 ounce sueded half skin) at the ‘perfect’ price, which of course made the skins ‘perfect’.

Heading around the corner to 39th Street, we went to the ‘Fabric Store of Enormous Rats’.  There are many job lotters in the rag district, all of which seem to be named things like A&J, A&S, A&A, and so on.  It’s a bit tough to differentiate them; however, the Store of Enormous Rats’ has earned this distinction by virtue of the fact that at one point a few years earlier, we were sourcing for a theatrical event and digging through the basement.  We moved a bolt of fabric and a rat ran across our feet.  Rats are semi-common in New York, but this one seemed a tad put out that his home had been moved.  At any rate, the prices at the Store of Enormous Rats are really excellent and with only minor haggling everyone can usually walk away satisfied.  Except, perhaps, the rats.

In any event, the proprietor and staff got into the spirit of the hunt and were very helpful at moving bolts around for the ladies.  We soon found Missy’s single knit jersey, which she negotiated a very good price for.  Britt had a wider array of fabrics she was sourcing, but we soon found her changeable iridescent taffeta (black to silvery grey); her lace (better than expected); and silk crepe chiffon (it’s like buttah!).  Successfully concluding Britt’s purchases, Missy was almost overwhelmed by the display of sequined fabrics by the counter, but we were able to carefully disengage the bolts from her fingers and head west to Daytona Trims.

Daytona yielded up dye, inexpensive (ok, cheap!) zippers and buttons, strapping, and best of all, stretch rhinestone trim (three guesses who bought that?)  Missy was dissuaded from purchasing all the other wide rhinestone trims by being reminded that developing her own beading patterns would let her put them in her portfolio.  Tucking everything carefully away, we headed over to 7th Avenue for a glory shot by the Fashion District Information Center, home of the giant button and needle.  Then we headed south on 7th Avenue (aka Fashion Avenue) for a quick bite at Seven on 7th to wait out rush hour.

Heading out of the City and beating our way back through the traffic, we were well content with our day, even it was remarkably rat-free.  Missy and Britt had gotten their full suite of fabrics for their collections, as well as additional trims; we had taken in some exhibits, paid our respects to the Tents at Bryant Park, we’d had the ‘chi-chi NYC restaurant’ experience, and we had a chance to experience Rush Hour in New York.  Back home, we found a fire and martinis waiting for us, as well as some light snacks.   A perfect ending to a perfect sourcing day in New York.

The Museum at FIT

Macy's "Theater"Window

Britt Sources Trims

Missy Examines the Many Choices of Rhinestones

Photographers' Entrance to NY Fashion Week Tents

Britt Checking Out Lace Options

Success!

"You Aren't Supposed to Rip....It. Oh."

"It's like Buttah!"

"This is the PERFECT Taffeta"

Haggling About the Price

Perfect Fabric! Perfect Price! Yes, She Wants It!

Settling Up....O.M.G....Sequins!

The Giant Needle at the Fashion District Information Kiosk

More Images From Virtual Yellowstone National Park

Continuing our exploration of the data set for the mirror world of Yellowstone National Park provided by Dr. Brian Quinn, we had a chance to wade around in Yellowstone Lake.

In the following images, we show scenes taken from the shores of the virtual Yellowstone Lake, which now has water added. If you look closely, you can see an avatar wading around out in the middle of the virtual Lake.  She’s dwarfed by the scenery…but is a giant compared to the actual terrain.  The avatar shown is about 5 feet 3 inches tall, so she’d be a bit more than 52 feet tall in the scenery shown.

This virtual version of Yellowstone National Park is open to anyone to visit. To visit, simply create an account on sciencesim.com, download your viewer of choice and follow the instructions on the sciencesim.com web site.  There is no charge for an account and there is no charge to visit.  Yellowstone is one of our research projects in ScienceSim.  Please feel free to visit us there.

ScienceSim Land Grant Program Overview & FAQ

We’ve had requests to repeat the presentation about the ScienceSim land grant program.  Although most of the parcels have been assigned, there are a few left, so we’re providing this overview of the program for those who have been unable to attend our past presentations.

The ScienceSim land grant program is an opportunity for nonprofit entities to explore the use of the OpenSim platform for their educational, research, and scientific endeavors.  The program ends on June 30, 2010.  There is no cost for participation in the program.  Management oversight is provided by the Fashion Research Institute, and grid administration is handled by Intel Labs.   The ScienceSim grid is hosted by IEEE/ACM.

The ScienceSim grid originated as a part of an exhibit for the 3D Internet track for the Supercomputing 09 conference, held in November 2009.  The multidisciplinary collaborators on the ScienceSim grid worked closely to develop a wide array of engaging exhibits, some of which were shown as part of Intel CTO Justin Rattner’s keynote speech at Supercomputing 09.  As the conference approached, collaborators were concerned that the work they had accomplished in common, the research they had conducted, and the results they had achieved in common not be lost after the conference.  To that end, it was agreed by these collaborators that they would work to create a formal organization which would serve as the catcher not only of their common work, including the code, content, and best practices they had created, but would also work to develop a stable distribution of OpenSim for the use of educators, researchers, and scientists.  The distribution would include not just the code, but full documentation, best practices, and curated content.

In order to help raise awareness and attention about such an organization, the ScienceSim land grant program was developed and launched.  Those of us who work extensively in OpenSim already know how flexible and extensible the platform is.  It serves the needs of fashion design students as readily as it meets the requirements of scientists who want to show visualizations of large scale datasets and changes that occur to them over time.  The low cost and ability of the platform to scale to accommodate the needs of multidisciplinary users has been amply proven to us, both through our own programs or through collaborating with other groups.  Enabling other users to access this platform is, we feel, key to the evolution of the platform and its ecology of community, content, and user needs.

An active community of explorers and users will help us define the user needs for the platform, which in turn will help us define what a stable distribution should look like.  In other words, we are all collaborating together to help move OpenSim forward.

Like Second Life regions, OpenSim regions are also 256mx256m square.  We have divided our regions into 1/4 region parcels, with the edges around the parcels retained for use in ‘urban infrastructure’, eg, walkways and roads.  Recipients of parcels in the ScienceSim land grant program includes a 100mx100m parcel, with each parcel containing 8,000 primitives.  For those keeping score, yes, this means that the regions themselves can contain up to 35,000 primitives.  While the servers running these regions are capable of much more (for example, Shengri La Chamomile currently has 256,000 primitive objects in the region) what we have found is that user experience degrades over 35,000 objects. We are therefore artificially limiting the regions to a mere 8,000 prims per recipient, in order to help manage user experience for all users.

In addition to the basic parcel, Fashion Research Institute is providing professional management oversight of the program, including managing the land covenant and other agreements.  The program also includes access to premium, verified original content, licensed for use on the ScienceSim grid.  This library of content includes 170 prefab buildings, developed in 6 styles, in 6 colors per style, in an array of sizes per style; 80 texture packs, each containing 12-20 unique textures; an array of avatar customization content for both male and female avatars (skins, shapes, eyes, hair, clothing, shoes, accessories); landscaping and hardscaping; sculpted animals, and more.  The library also includes a collection of ‘basic’ scripting which has been written by the collaborators and donated to the scriptorium with the appropriate licenses. And, lastly, a proven orientation gateway system, courtesy of FRI,  for users to orient their new users. This gateway has been used to orient more than 65,000 new users and can be used by land grant recipients for orientation of their new users.

What the program does not include is any additional region, content, or program development; any backend integration to existing programs; or consulting.  Recipients must be able to handle their own development or they must have a budget to pay for any additional development they themselves cannot perform.  The ScienceSim land grant program cannot provide these services.

Entities which have heavy tech integration needs or which require 24/7 customer service support should consider a commercial alternative such as ReactionGrid, SimHost, or 3D Hosting.  The ScienceSim land grant is not a competitive alternative to a commercial hosting facility and should not be regarded as such.

The land grant program ends on June 30, 2010.  At that time, the servers being used to host the regions will be re-purposed.  They are not available to rent or hire and regions currently hosted on those servers must be migrated elsewhere.  The data, research, content, and context the parcel recipients have developed in their region will not, however, be lost.   Parcel recipients own their data.  And they will be provided with their data in the form of an OAR (OpenSim Archive Resource) file at the end of the term.  Depending on the size of the file, it will be emailed or placed on an FTP site where it can be picked up.

Either a full OAR file or a partial OAR file will be produced, depending on the future plans of the recipients. Participants who want to continue maintaining a presence on the ScienceSim grid after June 30, 2010, will need to make arrangements for their own hosting (either through internal resources or through commercial services).  Monthly hosting costs vary widely depending on the technical facilities an entity has internally or their need to purchase external monthly hosting.

While OpenSim, and OpenSim-based grids are often compared to the ‘Wild West’ of virtual worlds, ScienceSim itself could not be further from such a statement.  ScienceSim is hosted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM).  Weekly meetings are held during which representatives holding regions participate in the governance of the grid.  Future directions of the grid are discussed and agreed upon at these meetings. Systems administration is provided by Intel Labs.  There are weekly user meetings in which all users of the grid are welcome  to participate.  The ScienceSim land grant program itself is managed by FRI, and weekly governance meetings are held in the Homestead regions.  All parcel recipients are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Naturally, along with governance comes rules.  We too have rules with which we expect all recipients and their users to comply.  We expect recipients to use their real identities combined with their real organizations.  We expect our users to behave in accordance with the collaborative spirit of the community which has developed in ScienceSim, and to treat others with decency and respect.  We expect the users of the grid to obey our land covenant, and to observe the terms of use of our content licenses. Some of our users encourage their children and other family members to explore OpenSim on our grid.  We do not have any sort of content that encourages the ‘broader range of human expression’ beyond the bounds of expression that might be exhibited in a typical corporate or educational setting.  We expect our users to conform to the same sort of expression.

This program is limited to representatives from entities and entities which are educational, research, or scientific organizations.

Commercial entities are not eligible for this program.  If you already have a presence elsewhere on an OpenSim-based grid, you are not eligible.  If you are an individual who just wants to explore, you are not eligible.

If you do not have basic ‘build’ abilities, and the ability to manage your program or project on your own, you won’t be a good fit for this program.  Our collaborators are all busy with their own research, and while additional collaborations may well spring up as a result of proximity, you should not apply if you don’t have the basic skills you need to obtain one of our prefabs and get your parcel developed.  You cannot assume there will be resources to help you develop your project or program.

The grid is called the ScienceSim grid, but that is not an implication about the sorts of programs or disciplines which will be engaging in these parcels over the next six months.  Naturally, we have several Ed Tech programs which will be developing projects there, but we also have fashion design interns, legal interns, geology, game design, and even creative writing projects which will develop in these parcels.   What do you want to explore in this six month window?  You can use the space as teaching space, as lab space, as development space across an array of disciplines.

Sound like utopia? Almost, but of course, there’s always some fine print.  We like to think we’ve kept ours to a minimum, but we still have a little.  Fashion Research Institute holds a formal research agreement with Intel Labs.  We have completed the due diligence process and have signed the research contract that governs our engagement on the ScienceSim grid.  We have agreed to serve as the administrators of the ScienceSim land grant program.  What this means is that any parcel recipient must sign a legally binding agreement with FRI before a parcel can be awarded.  We have worked with our attorneys to create a short, 2-page agreement that is written in as close to plain English as we could get it.  The terms of the agreement are not negotiable.

Our lawyers tell us we cannot sign agreements with avatars.  Real identities, real organizations only, and you should assume basic due diligence will be conducted.  Requests from non-organizational e-mail addresses will be met with a standard form response to send us a request out of your official e-mail account.  We cannot engage with individuals who aren’t affiliated with the organization they purport to represent.

Want to apply for a parcel? It’s easy.  Send us your real identity, your real affiliation, and a brief 2-3 sentence (even a paragraph, we read fast) description out of your affiliation e-mail.  We review applications and turn them around within 24 hours.  If you do not hear from us within 24 hours, it means your request was caught in a spam filter.  Please resend in such cases.

The application e-mail address is: admin @ fashionresearchinstitute.com