I-X – Intelligent Technology

This blog post is intended to provide a quick overview of our work on I-X – “Intelligent Technology”, its underlying <I-N-C-A> ontology, and especially its application to intelligent planning systems and intelligent collaborative spaces using I-Plan and I-Rooms.

Austin TateAustin Tate and the Edinburgh Planning Group

Firstly a brief introduction. I am Professor of Knowledge-Based Systems at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the University’s Artificial Intelligence Applications Institute (AIAI). More information via http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/~bat/.

AI planning has been a topic of active research at Edinburgh since the 1960s and I have been exploring this area since the early 1970s. The Planning and Activity Management Group within the Artificial Intelligence Applications Institute (AIAI) in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh is exploring representations and reasoning mechanisms for inter-agent activity support. The agents may be people or computer systems working in a coordinated fashion. The group explores and develops generic approaches by engaging in specific applied studies. Applications include crisis action planning, command and control, space systems, manufacturing, logistics, construction, procedural assistance, help desks, emergency response, etc.

Our long term aim is the creation and use of task-centric virtual organisations involving people, government and non-governmental organisations, automated systems, grid and web services working alongside intelligent robotic, vehicle, building and environmental systems to respond to very dynamic events on scales from local to global.

More on our planning technology, research and applications projects is described at http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/project/plan/

I-X and I-Plan

I-X LogoI-X – http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/project/ix/ or http://i-x.info – is a systems integration architecture. Its design is based on the earlier O-Plan agent architecture and incorporates a hierarchical viewpoint to it’s systems design. I-X provides an issue-handling style of architecture, with reasoning and functional capabilities provided as plug-ins. Also via plug-ins it allows for sophisticated constraint management, and a wide range of communications and visualisation capabilities. I-X agents may be combined in various ways, and may interwork with other processing capabilities or architectures especially where hybrid cognitive systems are joined to algorithms and data driven sub-cognitive modules where they can all work in an “intelligible” and human level explainable manner. I-X supports applications orientated towards “synthesis” tasks where such as design, configuration and especially planning. It is especially designed to support mixed initiative work between people, robots and computer systems working in a cooperative fashion.

An introductory paper to the approach is available here…

Tate, A. (2000) Intelligible AI Planning, in Research and Development in Intelligent Systems XVII, Proceedings of ES2000, The Twentieth British Computer Society Special Group on Expert Systems International Conference on Knowledge Based Systems and Applied Artificial Intelligence, pp. 3-16, Cambridge, UK, December 2000, Springer.

In a nutshell, all aspects of agent capabilities, activities, tasks, objectives, plans, etc are represented in some way as a specialisation of a set of “issues”, a set of “nodes” (think of activities in a planning context or parts of a designed object), a set of “constraints” of various kinds and a set of “annotations”. We write this as <I-N-C-A>. I-X, our systems architecture, essentially just uses its computational capabilities to handle issues, apply nodes, manage constraints and interpret annotations to inform, explain or support the use of the construct.

<I-N-C-A> Ontology – Issues, Nodes, Constraints and Annotations

Here is a quick intro style paper on the idea of treating all aspects of task specification, planning, environment modelling and lower level activity as “constraints on permissible behaviour” and our <I-N-C-A> Ontology for plans, activity, agent capabilities and all things like that (though it actually is more general and applies also to designed artifacts, scheduled things and configuration tasks).

Tate, A.(2003) <I-N-C-A>: A Shared Model for Mixed-initiative Synthesis Tasks, Proceedings of the Workshop on Mixed-Initiative Intelligent Systems (MIIS) at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-03), pp. 125-130, Acapulco, Mexico, August 2003.

My work on hierarchical planning over the years led to a very simple abstract ontology suitable for objectives, tasking, activity specification and capability modelling which is intended to be as flexible (and additive) as required for any application. The concepts within the ontology have been a core of standards such as NIST Process Specification Language (later an ISO process specification standard), etc. We call this <I-N-C-A> – it is an ontology suited for any “synthesised” things… and allows for design, configuration as well as planning applications. which allows for a set of constraints on behaviour where the types of constraint are “issues” to be addressed, “nodes” (which can be thought of in a planning context as “include activity” constraints, “constraints” themselves (in a planning context usually time, and object co-designation/non-co-designation and sometimes spatial), and “annotations” (which we use to capture underlying gIBIS style rationale of how issues/tasks are turned into selected activities under the constraints).

An I-X system can “handle issues”, “apply nodes”, “manage constraints” and “interpret annotations”. The idea is that the components in an <I-N-C-A> inspired system share and communicate constraints up and down, and that lower levels can communicate via partially shared constraints that can be understood between the levels (this often involves time, object = and /= ) so there can be yes, no and “maybe if” information passed between the levels to help home in on a mutually acceptable artefact (design or plan) in a mixed initiative fashion. Great where humans, organisations, robots and environmental systems are all cooperating.

Applications and Use Cases

I-X, I-Plan and <I-N-C-A> have been applied in a number of areas… many reflecting our applications and research funding interests in collaborative systems, operations centres, emergency response, etc. Links to projects are at http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/project/plan/.

2010-05-13-Train-for-Success-1We have also explored intelligent instrumented spaces in which people and knowledge-based systems can cooperate in areas such as mixed-reality distributed team operations centres using the concept of an I-Room – a Virtual Space for Intelligent Interaction.

<I-N-C-A> has even been applied as a business modelling approach without any software involvement to collecting information and making business cases for the potential opening of large scale plant across the world for a major food manufacturer.

More Publications

The above papers (as PDF) and others that go into more technical details on the I-X/I-Plan system and how it uses <I-N-C-A> can be found in the following documents index…

A couple of publications that may give a good overview are as follows:

  • Tate, A. (2000) Intelligible AI Planning, in Research and Development in Intelligent Systems XVII, Proceedings of ES2000, The Twentieth British Computer Society Special Group on Expert Systems International Conference on Knowledge Based Systems and Applied Artificial Intelligence, pp. 3-16, Cambridge, UK, December 2000, Springer. [PDF]
  • Tate, A. (2003) : a Shared Model for Mixed-initiative Synthesis Tasks, Proceedings of the Workshop on Mixed-Initiative Intelligent Systems (MIIS) at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-03), pp. 125-130, Acapulco, Mexico, August 2003. [PDF]
  • Tate, A. (2014) Using Planning to Adapt to Dynamic Environments, in Suri, N. and Cabri, G. (eds.) (2014) Adaptive, Dynamic, and Resilient Systems, Chapter 13, pp. 243-257, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis. [PDF]

Our earlier O-Plan planner use of <I-N-OVA> (a forerunner of the more abstract upper level <I-N-C-A> ontology) is described in these publications from 1984 to 2003…

  • http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/project/oplan/documents/
  • For an overview of O-Plan and its applications see… Tate, A. and Dalton, J. (2003) O-Plan: a Common Lisp Planning Web Service, invited paper, in Proceedings of the International Lisp Conference 2003, October 12-25, 2003, New York, NY, USA, October 12-15, 2003. [ PDF]

How this might be used alongside other Systems Architectures

<I-N-C-A> is intended to act as a simple, easily understood, upper ontology or outer layer for representing all aspects of tasks, activity, objectives and agent capabilities. Alongside an ontology and models for the objects in the domain, which <I-N-C-A> deliberately does not prescribe, it can offer a framework which can easily be deepened to meet the actual requirements while providing a stable overall basis which allows for system reasoning and human understanding.

The work on <I-N-C-A> involves the investigation of the use of shared models for task directed communication between human and computer agents who are jointly exploring a range of alternative options for a product design or for joint activity.

Six concepts are used as the basis for exploring task orientated multi-agent and mixed-initiative work involving users and systems. Together these provide for a shared model of what each agent can and is authorised to do and what those agents can act upon. The concepts are:

  1. Shared Object/Product Model — a structured representation of the object being modelled or produced using a common constraint model of the object or product.
  2. Shared Planning and Activity Model — a rich plan representation for activities, objectives and plans using a common constraint model of activity.
  3. Shared Task Model — Mixed initiative model of “mutually constraining the space of behaviour” (or objects/products/plans).
  4. Shared Space of Options — explicit option management.
  5. Shared Model of Agent Processing Capabilities — handlers for issues, appliers for nodes, constraint (model) managers and (possibly) annotation interpreters.
  6. Shared Understanding of Authority — management of the authority to do work (to handle issues and apply/execute nodes/activities) and which may take into account options and levels of abstraction of the model of the object or product.

Engagement with various standards setting groups has a part of the work: PIF, NIST PSL, OMWG CPR and DARPA SPAR all converge on a single core model of activity which can be related to the more abstract <I-N-C-A>.

IBM Project Intu – “Self” – Cognitive Architectures

Sample Project Intu Conversational Agent Sample Project Intu Conversational Agent

Resources for Discussion


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Nonprofit Commons in Second Life

On 21-Dec-2018 the Nonprofit Commons (NPC, http://nonprofitcommons.org/) in Second Life held a Grand Opening of their newly renovated Community Virtual Library Nonprofit Resource Library along with ice skating to celebrate the last NPC meeting of 2018.

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On 18-Dec-2018 Olivier Michel at http://cyberbotics.com let previous Webots users know that the platform has been made open source via GitHub…

Today, after more than 20 years of proprietary licensing, Webots has become free open source software, released under the terms of the Apache 2.0 license. You can download Webots R2019a binary packages, contribute on GitHub, read the official announcement, and watch the video presentation.

Webots Resources

Webots has been used for some years in the Robotics classes in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, and was used by AIAI for Project AIBO as described in this blog post… http://blog.inf.ed.ac.uk/atate/2014/04/05/experiments-with-webots-6-4-4/

Webots 2019a Project AIBO
Unimate Puma NASA Sojourner
Apartment and Roomba Moon Bots
Sphero BB8

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Nautica is an exploration game based released by Epic Games in a watery world where your spaceship has crash landed and you have escaped in an escape pod equipped with a materials and equipment fabricator, materials analyser and limited storage (Inventory) facilities.

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Dual Universe

I am a Kickstarter Funder for the emerging MMO orientated Dual Universe platform. Dual Universe Alpha 1 usage is subject to a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) so this blog post only provides useful links and publicly posted images and videos by Novaquark, the developers of Dual Universe.

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Diva Wifi for OpenSim

OpenSim changes the .NET Framework in use for compilation from 4.0 to 4.6. As at 12-Dec-2018 the sources for Diva’s addon modules are still based on .NET Framework 4.0 suitable for OpenSim versions up to the current stable Small changes are needed to the *prebuild.xml files in those sources for Diva addon modules (and hence Wifi) to work with the latest versions of OpenSim.

First check the GitHub Diva source downloads directory as updates are likely once is available as a stable OpenSim release.

Otherwise some helpful information and resources may be found in the section Update of Diva Addons for OpenSim onwards near the end of this blog post…

Diva Canto provides the popular “Diva Distribution (D2)” precompiled version of OpenSim which includes a number of addon modules. One of these is called “Wifi” and provides a web front-end interface to OpenSim running in “Standalone” or “Grid mode with “Robust” services.

Wifi front end to Openvue Grid Wifi front end to AiLand Grid

Wifi is documented on the OpenSim Wiki at http://opensimulator.org/wiki/Wifi through which links can be found to Diva Canto’s download and source areas on Github. Wifi serves web pages which provide services such as:

  • Account creation, optionally controlled by the administrator
  • Configurable default avatars for new accounts
  • Account updates by both users and administrator
  • Account deletion by administrator
  • Password recovery via e-mail
  • Simple user inventory management

Wifi as an OpenSim Add-in

Up to OpenSim 0.8.0, Wifi was available as an add on module via compiled .DLL libraries which could be enabled for Standalone and Grid setups. From OpenSim 0.8.1 onwards, a more flexible “add-in” library mechanism that was already in OpenSim has been improved and Wifi now is provided as an add-in under that mechanism. This does mean that the build and configuration process is different.

Diva Canto has provided a blog post which describes the new Wifi mechanism and how to build and configure it, mostly geared at Unix/Linux users.

Wifi for OpenSim Robust Grids for Windows Users

In case it is helpful to those running Robust grids under Windows, I describe here the mechanism I use to build, configure and run Wifi on our own grids.

  1. Download the OpenSim source distribution as a zip file from one of the following:

    and unzip the source code to a suitable location. Note there is a folder called “addon-modules” at the top level (same level as the “bin” directory) which only contains a README.

  2. Obtain the source of the Diva addons via

    and unzip it to a temporary area. Copy the contents of the “addon-modules” from that area into the main unzipped OpenSim directory top level addon-modules directory. Take care as there is another directory “bin/addon-modules” which is NOT the one you want to copy to.

  3. As at 12-Dec-2018 the sources for Diva’s addon modules are based on .NET Framework 4.0. Small changes are needed to the *prebuild.xml files in those sources for Diva addon modules (and hence Wifi) to work with the latest versions of OpenSim. Otherwise some helpful information and resources may be found in the section Update of Diva Addons for OpenSim onwards near the end of this blog post.

  4. The following Diva addon modules are require for Wifi to work… the others are optional for uses beyond the Wifi interface and may be omitted…
    • 00Data
    • 00DivaInterfaces
    • 01DivaUtils
    • 1DivaOpenSimServices
    • 20WifiScriptEngine
    • 21Wifi
  5. You can now build OpenSim as usual, and the addons will also be automatically compiled. E.g., in a Command Prompt shell “cd” (change directory) to the top level of the OpenSim unzipped directory and then run “runprebuild.bat” followed by “compile.bat”. The resulting bin directory contains all you need and will have in it the addon Diva modules including Wifi.

  6. The latest versions of Wifi allow for extensive localisation with several provided languages and instructions on how to add further languages. A script (Unix .sh or Windows .bat) is now included in Wifi which creates a .dll file containing the resources used when the Wifi module starts up for localisation. These are unpacked using the Windows SDK “ResGen.exe” utility which must be accessible via the Windows PATH environmental variable. Run it at addon-modules/21Wifi/Localization/make_languages.bat or .sh.

  7. Before you run Robust.exe and OpenSim.exe, configure Wifi for your requirements by editing bin/Wifi.ini (but see the section “Disable Wifi in OpenSim.exe” below for a suggested improvement). A basis for your own bin/Wifi.ini file can be found in addon-modules/21Wifi. Since Wifi.ini sets Wifi as disabled by default, you will have to explicitly enable it and change necessary information to access your OpenSim data base, set your administrator avatar name and e-mail, etc.

  8. To allow tailoring of Wifi for your own grid, a directory “WifiPages” at the same level as the “bin” directory may be used where you can place specific *.html and any image/* files which will override the default equivalents in bin/WifiPages. The following pages can be overridden:
    • footer.html
    • header.html
    • links.html
    • splash.html
    • termsofservice.html
    • welcome.html
    • image/*

Disable Wifi in OpenSim.exe

With the default locations suggested in Robust.[HG.]ini.example and OpenSim.ini.example for the add-in configuration and registry locations, the addins are picked up by both Robust.exe and OpenSim.exe and use the same configuration for both. This means that if Wifi is enabled in Wifi.ini it runs in both Robust.exe and OpenSim.exe. This is not what is wanted for a grid and means that Wifi is served on the OpenSim default port (usually :9000) as well as the grid services port (usually :8002).

Hence, the following is the configuration used on Openvue and AiLand grids to allow for separate enabling of Wifi for Robust.exe and disabling Wifi for OpenSim.exe. Wifi.ini is MOVED from bin/Wifi.ini to config-addon-robust/Wifi.ini. These configuration settings may be useful as a basis for what others might wish to use…

-------- Robust.[HG].ini ----------------------
    RegistryLocation = "."
    ConfigDirectory = "./config-addon-robust"

-------- OpenSim.ini---------------------------
    RegistryLocation = "."
    ConfigDirectory = "./config-addon-opensim"

-------- config-addon-robust/Wifi.ini ---------
; Copied from Diva's Wifi.ini with [WifiService] Enabled = true
; and changes for your data base, admin avatar and grid environment

-------- config-addon-opensim/Wifi.ini --------
	Enabled = false

Check your Data.MySQL.dll in Robust.[HG.]ini

In configurations for Wifi before the 0.8.1 add-in, Diva.Data.MySQL.dll was used as the “StorageProvider” both within the Wifi modules and for other Robust services. This is no longer necessary. The default StorageProvider = OpenSim.Data.MySQL.dll should be used for all normal Robust.exe services as configured in Robust.[HG.]ini as Wifi itself picks up the StorageProvider = Diva.Data.MySQL.dll separately from the settings in Wifi.ini.

Update of Diva Addons for OpenSim onwards – using .NET Framework 4.6

Instructions to update the version of the Diva Addon Modules as at 12-Dec-2018 to Framework 4.6 and fix a couple of compiler warnings is available, along with a zip file of a modified version, via http://openvce.net/resources/downloads/diva-wifi/

Setting up the Default Avatars for Wifi

Using the provided example Wifi.ini file you have an indication that you can select one of three default appearances for newly created avatars set up via Wifi. But in a new environment you must set those avatars up first.

  1. Create the avatars with names “Female Avatar”, Male Avatar”, “Neutral Avatar”. and authorise them via the Wifi Admin is that is required.
  2. Login as each avatar in turn. They will usually appear as a cloud initially and then after a short while (depending on the version of OpenSim you are using) rezz to appear as “Ruth” wearing four basic body parts, new pants and new shirt. Note these parts come directly from the OpenSim Library and MUST NOT be worn in your final appearance for the default avatars. You can COPY these library parts into the avatar’s inventory if you wish, or create new body parts and clothing, but before you finish you should remove any items that show as “worn” that are located in the OpenSim Library as those will not rezz on avatars created based on these models.
  3. Create new body parts and clothing and edit them and/or add any other mesh, clothing, attachments or HUDs you wish to appear on the avatars.
  4. Note you can extend (or change the avatars names or labels) for the range of default appearances that are shown in Wifi and/or change the preselected default by altering Wifi.ini.
    ;; Syntax: AvatarAccount_<AvatarType> = "<FirstName> <LastName>"
    ;;         (replace spaces in <AvatarType> with underscore)
    AvatarAccount_Female="Female Avatar" 
    AvatarAccount_Male="Male Avatar" 
    AvatarAccount_Neutral="Neutral Avatar" 
    ;; Preselection for default avatar in new account registration 
  5. When you Create a new avatar via the Wifi web interface based on these predefined avatars the items worn will appear in the newly create avatar’s inventory under Clothes -> Default Avatar <AvatarType>.
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OpenSim VR Viewer Under Development – Resources

Resources related to a new open source OpenSim content VR Viewer under development by Melanie Thielker of Avination and others…

Open Source VR Viewer for OpenSim in Development — Low Cost Alternative for Social VR Projects, Blog Post: December 10, 2018…

New open source VR viewer for OpenSim may be coming soon…, Blog Post: December 10, 2018…

New viewer for OpenSim-based worlds. Originally using the Unreal game engine. Currently it uses the Xenko game engine for rendering.

To be visited in virtual reality with Melanie Thielker’s new viewer, the OpenSim regions first have to be converted to a format compatible with the Unreal/Xenko Engine. There is no support yet for getting the regions directly from OpenSim servers, or for having avatars in the scene.

Melanie Thielker’s presentation at the OpenSim Community Conference (OSCC’18)

OpenSim VR Viewer via OARConverter, Unity and SineSpace

An alternative way to view OpenSim content in VR would be to convert OpenSim Archive (OAR) files to Collada mesh via the OAR Converter Tool, import that to Unity and then publish the content into a SineSpace scene. [Sinespace Resources]

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Dreamgrid – Outworldz Dreamworld – OpenSimulator

Outworldz Dreamgrid LauncherDreamgrid is an easy to use OpenSim platform created by Fred Beckhusen, aka Ferd Frederix. It includes MySQL, Dynamic DNS name provision, OpenSim Dev, 1, Diva’s WiFi admin interface and a wide range of add on modules. It sets up a virtual world grid with HyperGrid capability along with options to load a range of alternative content via OpenSim Archive (OAR) and Inventory Archive (IAR) files. It includes a simple update mechanism.

Addon Modules

Some Advice on Setting up Default Avatars for the Wifi Web Interface

See http://blog.inf.ed.ac.uk/atate/2018/12/12/diva-wifi/#avatars

Issues being Explored at Dreamgrid version 2.53 (10 December 2018)

There appears to be a problem when jumping between different Dreamgrid grids using hop://grid:port/region/x/y/z addresses in the address bar. Using the grid:port/region format in the Map tool appears to work. And using a hop:// in the address bar to a non-Dreamgrid (but still Dev) grid works.

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OpenSimulator Community Conference 2018 – OSCC18

The OpenSimulator Community Conference (OSCC18) ran again this year on December 8th to 9th, 2018 and was once again organised and run by Avacon.

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High Fidelity – Futvrelands

On 17th November 2018 High Fidelity ran a Futvrelands event in honour of VR Day.

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Clamavi De Profundis – Tolkien Poems

Image from TheOneRing.net
Clamavi De Profundis is a family that loves to sing together and record inspiring and uplifting music. Their music is influenced by classical and fantasy literature as well as cinematic, traditional, religious, and classical music. In particular they have created some wonderful songs and videos based on poems from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold (from The Hobbit) –

Song of Durin (Complete Edition) (from The Hobbit) –

The Song of Beren and Lúthien

Image from Clamavi De Profundis

Clamavi De Profundis have a Patreon Page where support can be given to the production of their music.

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Internet Shopping circa 1995 – Comments to the Press

I was amused to come across a press clipping of a 1995 article in the Edinburgh Evening News (“Keying in a spot of lunch” by Lindsay Reid, Evening News, 29th April 1995) in which I am quoted with several comments about the early emergence of Internet shopping…
Edinburgh Evening News 1995-04-29 Lindsay Reid Internet Shopping

Edinburgh Evening News 1995-04-29 Lindsay Reid Internet Shopping - Extract

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WordPress Blog Export and Import

I have been experimenting with export and reimport of WordPress blog posts and media content. If the Dashboard -> Tools -> Export (or under Dashboard -> Settings -> Export) was used to export “All” content and then the new destination site import occurred then I had believed that media such as images were taken over and put in the media library, but that the links/URLs in blog posts continued to point to the previous site. I now think there must be a two stage process to a full import of the posts and media.

  1. Import of the blog posts and media/images into the media library. [Takes a few minutes after which you are informed the import is complete.]
  2. Redirection of all the internal image URLs to the new local media library content. [Was completed overnight and no notice was sent to indicate this.]

An export and reimport of later content will just add new posts and media and not make duplicate entries. This is important bas the WordPress exporter seems to only allow a selective (e.g. data range) export of specific content such as posts and media, while the “All” export copies the entire blog to the export file (which is XML based). Unfortunately there can be a limit on the target site importer (15MB for the export/import file in the case of wordpress.com and 10MB for blogs.ed.ac.uk). My own blog is close to that limit as of today.

I note that my image rich blog of around 700 posts when imported to a wordpress.com blog uses up about 1GB of space (of the 3GB limit allowed there for free accounts).

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Robert Adams (Misterblue) has created the “Convoar” tool to convert OpenSim OAR files into glTF (GL Transmission Format). The following blog post goes into more detail.


Robert explained to me that Convoar grew out of his personal project on virtual world scene simplification that he felt is needed for viewing OpenSimulator content in web browsers. Convoar is a stopping point on the way. He chose GLTF format because it is being used by Cesium and other web viewer projects. Today, the 3dWebWorldz project is using these OAR conversions to import into their web browser virtual worlds since there is a loader bundled with ThreeJS. There are also importers for most of the 3D editing tools.

Example converted regions (including our own OpenVCE OAR) are listed and available at


That OARs page includes links to view the 3D content via the “Simple Basil” viewer intended to act as a web viewer for virtual world content including from OpenSimulator.

glTF (GL Transmission Format) and GLB (GL Transmission Format Binary)

There are 3D modeller importers, exporters and converters for various 3D Model formats such as Autodesk FBX and Collada (.DAE) available.

The Khronos Group has provided a Blender add-on which enables glTF import and export via https://github.com/KhronosGroup/glTF-Blender-Exporter.

The Khronos Group have also created a Unity import and export tool available via https://github.com/KhronosGroup/UnityGLTF along with an included ready to open Unity project called “UnityGLTF” (not working on a test in Unity 2018.3.0b2).

IO-glTF is an open-source FBX importer/exporter plug-in that converts FBX file (and any file format that FBX can read such as obj, collada, …) to glTF. This plug-in can be used by any FBX based application to import/export glTF files. It needs to be installed in the Blender scripts/add-ons/ directory and then enabled under the Files -> User Preferences -> Addons tab.

There are also a range of online converters, such as:

A “glTF Binary” file is a .GLB file such as used in Oculus Home 3D model content. Facebook/Oculus provide a precompiled FSX to glTF converter at https://github.com/facebookincubator/FBX2glTF/releases and there is a glTF to Binary glTF packer via https://glb-packer.glitch.me/

See instructions at https://support.oculus.com/1702745539746285/#Importing and more detail at https://developers.facebook.com/docs/sharing/3d-posts/glb-tutorials

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Elf Clan

Elf Clan Gem Header - image from Elf Clan
Elf Clan is one of the oldest and largest virtual world fantasy role play groups. It has held lands in Second Life and various OpenSim grids. Its most recent home is on OSGrid but with affiliated Elf-themed regions on any other Hypergrid connected OpenSim grid as described in this blog post.

More information about Elf Clan and its activities is available on http://elfclan.spruz.com

Elf Clan on OSgrid is on the ElfClan region (note no space), with hypergrid address hop://login.osgrid.org:80/ElfClan or use hg.osgrid.org:80:ElfClan in the viewer map. (In October 2018 the region was named ElfClan-Sandbox).

To Join Elf Clan, search for the ELF CLAN group on OSGrid or the various Affiliate Grids (e.g. Kitely, DigiWorldz, etc.), and JOIN. It’s open-join on all affiliate grids. You can join on multiple grids if you wish.

ElfClan on OSGrid

Elvenworld on OSGrid – Affiliated to Elf Clan

Ai Avatar with Orcrist

Update on 10-Jan-2019 by @Wayfinder Wishbringer

Group website: http://elfclan.spruz.com

Elf Clan is very pleased to announce that we are re-established, set up, and for the most part fully operational on OSgrid (still updating a few scripts here and there). Search for ElvenSong region. We managed to rebuild ElvenSong, ElvenMyst and Replicant City on a 5×5 VAR, with Peter Lioncourt’s ElvenGlen and Koni Lanzius’ amazing ElvenWorld both next door, to form a 75-region continent with lots of sailing waters.

Visitors are welcome 24/7/365. ElvenSong and Replicant City are highly-interactive regions. Looking for awesome fantasy freebies? ElvenWorld is one of the best resources I’ve seen. ElvenGlen takes us back to the original Elf Clan region where it all began, re-built to the best of our ability. It’s been a real head-rush to re-create these regions on our own servers with full back-up capability, running as fast and smooth as ever. Opensim rawks.

Also check out Moontan Valeeta’s 2×2 Ithil Dae, a peaceful Elven fantasy region on Kitely grid.

Elf Clan is very pleased to be part of the OpenSim community. The “closed wall blinders” have been removed and we have expanded beyond our greatest dreams. The storm is not completely over (most ex-Inworldz members have still not received their OAR file creations even at this late date), but Elf Clan has weathered the storm and is as visitor-friendly as ever. We’re still unpacking boxes and working on some scripts here and there, but for the most part our lands are operational. Family-friendly, General-rated regions (please dress and act modestly as befits Elven lands). Feel free to bring your kids and grandkids. Have fun at the secret Dwagon Playground (if you can find it), visit the Elf Clan Crystal Museum, sail rezzable ships throughout the region, or explore the highly-interactive multi-genre science fiction world of Replicant City in high-sky ElvenSong. Bring your friends and explore, role play, pick up some freebies. Elf Clan welcomes you.

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High Fidelity – Load Test – 7 Sept 2018

A load test of the High Fidelity virtual world platform took place on 7th September 2018 and at least 356 avatars were in world in the same location at peak. A lot of different tests and exercises were run, including a trivia game. The performance was very good with only a couple of losses of the sound and one or two scene drop outs when logged on from Edinburgh Scotland.

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Sintel Resources

This page acts as a resource for the Blender Durian Open Source Movie Sintel Project and its Sintel character 3D models and avatars.

Blender Sintel Avatar Model

The Open Source Blender Project “Sintel” avatar has been used in a number of open source projects and a version is available to use as an avatar or character in environments such as Unity.

http://u3d.at.ua/load/modeli/ljudi_personazhi/sintel_character_for_unity/14-1-0-2929 by SaNEк [local copy]


It can be use to replace the Ethan visual model as described above. Just delete the Ethan visual model elements (EthanBody, EthanGlasses and EthanSkeleton) and insert the Sintel model instead. Then select the original Ethan “ThirdPersonController” and in the Unity Inspector change the Animator -> Avatar to the “SintelAvatar” you have included.

2015-09-08-Unity-Sintel-2 2015-09-08-Unity-Sintel-Run

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Pisten Bully 3D Models

Kässbohrer Pisten Bully Models imported via Unity3D and into a range of environments…

Original Models via 3DWarehouse.sketchup.com

Pisten Bully 100 via 3dwarehouse.sketchup.com by Tomme123456789

Pisten Bully 100 by Tomme123456789 Pisten Bully 300 by Digital Impressions

Pisten Bully 300 via 3dwarehouse.sketchup.com by Digital Impressions

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Fallingwater in southwestern Pennsylvania is a vacation home designed in 1935 by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and often thought to be one of the finest buildings of the 20th Century.

Fallingwater 3D Model by Myles Zhang

Fallingwater PlanA lovely 3D openly accessible and modifiable model of the house and environment was created by Myles Zhang on Sketchfab.com [ Download Resources ] using 3D model source files originally by nottamun on 3dwarehouse.sketchup.com.

Fallingwater in Unity3D

I extracted the Collada (DAE) model of Fallingwater with its associated textures and imported those to Unity3D adding in some surrounding terrain. The trees and bushes were mostly replaced using Unity3D free assets and waterfall details were added and animated. Building and ground lighting was added, along with a day/night cycle. Doorways are not animated, so some of these were made into phantom (non-colliding) objects so an avatar can walk through them. Some pathways, corridors, doors and stairs in the house are not accurately modelled and can cause an avatar to get stuck, so some invisible barriers were put in place to help prevent this.

Fallingwater in Unity3D

Fallingwater in Sinespace

The build was then loaded in the multi-user virtual world Sinespace… it can be visited by searching for “Fallingwater” in the “Explore” panel in the Sinespace viewer.

Fallingwater in Sinespace Fallingwater in Sinespace

Fallingwater in Sinespace Fallingwater in Sinespace

Fallingwater in Sinespace via a Browser/WebGL

A WebGL version may work for some via this link… http://sine.space/locations/fallingwater

Fallingwater Plans

These diagrams are included with the Fallingwater model by Myles Zhand and nottamun…

Fallingwater Cross-section


Posted in 3D, Virtual World | Tagged | 1 Comment

OpenSim Castle Cathedral Interior

The Epic Castle region in OpemSim (as described in this blog post) has interiors for some of the buildings created by Leora Jacobus. the cathedral includes an animated pipe organ and other interesting elements.

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Second Life Crystal Fortress

The Crystal Fortress is a gift provided in 2018 to avatars with premium subscriptions to Second Life. It provided a skybox for a 1024sq.m. plot that could be rezzed and placed at any height, interior furniture and a teleportation system all themed as rock or ice crystals. A guardian dragon appears to protect the structure.

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Pontefract Liquorice Festival 2018

Pontefract is a market town in West Yorkshire which was recorded in the Magna Carta in 1217. It sits within the Rhubarb Triangle and is well known for the manufacture of Liquorice and Pontefract Cakes (Pomfret Cakes). It holds an annual Pontefract Liquorice Festival. This years was on 8th July 2018.

Pontefract Liquorice Festival 2018 Poster Pontefract Magna Carta Plinth

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High Fidelity – Load Test – 6 July 2018

A load test of the High Fidelity virtual world platform took place on 6th July 2018 and over 200 avatars were in world in the same location at peak.

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Kässbohrer Pisten Bully Online Training

pistenbully-logoThe Pisten Bully range of snow cats and ski piste grooming machines is manufactured by Kässbohrer in Germany. They have a driver and technician training academy which also includes online training courses for beginners and those interested in Pisten Bully at http://proacademy.info.

I have previously noted my interest in Kässbohrer and follow their products via their newsletter and using Giant’s Ski Region Simulator 2012 with its many user-created add-on “mods” which give a wide variety of Kässbohrer Pisten Bully snow groomers to try in the simulated ski resort setting. See http://blog.inf.ed.ac.uk/atate/2015/02/17/kassbohrer-pisten-bully-simulator/.

Pro Academy

I signed up for their “PRO ACADEMY Online Training Demo English” to try out the online training courses, and after verification you can start the course.

[Images from http://pistenbully.com, Pisten Bully 600 Polar Brochure PDF]

Ski Resort Simulator 2012

Giant’s Ski Resort Simulator 2012 has been available for some time and I have previously written a blog post on this. A Steam version is now available.

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Moving Content between Virtual Worlds

This article is published as: Tate, A. (2018) Moving Content from Second Life/OpenSimulator via Unity3D to new Social Virtual Reality Platforms, Virtual Education Journal (VEJ), Summer 2018, Special Issue on “What if…”, pp.30-35, (ed. Roseanne Vojtek). Published by Edovation. [Online via ISSUU: VEJ in ISSUU, Summer 2018 Issue via ISSUU] [PDF Format]

Moving Content from Second Life/OpenSimulator via Unity3D to new Social Virtual Reality Platforms

Vue Experiments with other Virtual Worlds Platforms

Even before Second Life began to be used across the University of Edinburgh, groups in Business Studies, Education and Artificial Intelligence had been exploring virtual worlds platforms for a range of educational and research project uses.

Platforms (now long gone) such as “There” and commercial virtual world simulators such as “Forterra” had been in use, and Second Life itself had been used even in its very earliest incarnation.

When we began using Second Life for Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) purposes back in 2007 we could not have imagined the platform would remain stable for such a long period (over a decade and it is still available and being actively developed).

Even at the earliest stages we envisaged moving onto new platforms as they arose and experiments have taken place with quite a lot of potential platforms, Many we were involved in at closed alpha and open beta testing stages. Not all of the platforms tried made it to full open public release. A number of these experiments are documented in my blog posts at http://blog.inf.ed.ac.uk/atate/

Current platforms under investigation include:

Moving Content to New Virtual Worlds Platforms

We have used or been involved in the creation of a number of tools to assist in moving content across various virtual world platforms…

  • Where possible content was originated in tools such as Paint, Paint Shop Pro and PhotoShop and more recently in 3D mesh modelling tools such as 3D Studio Max or the open-source Blender to create Collada DAE or FBX meshes.
  • Second Inventory – was a useful tool to back up Second Life and OpenSimulator inventory items owned fully by a specific avatar. This tool is no longer available, but at the time was helpful to archive and reload builds (e.g. of the Vue buildings).
  • OpenSimulator Archives (OARs) and Inventory Archives (IARs) have been a very useful aid to preserve regions and inventory content.
  • The OAR Converter tool has provided a route to export content from OpenSimulator into Collada DAE (a portable 3D model format) and via that to allow its import to Unity3D. See http://blog.inf.ed.ac.uk/atate/oar-conv/
  • Unity3D is a widely used development platform and a useful conduit to transferring content into newly emerging virtual worlds and social virtual reality platforms. Unity has add-on tools available to export FBX format meshes even when the original content is in other 3D formats. See http://unity3d.com

Virtual Worlds Development Paths

OpenSimulator to Unity3D Conversions

Tokyo University of Information Sciences and Virtual University of Edinburgh OpenVCE

Appearance in OpenSim

Appearance in Unity3D Editor

Appearance in Sinespace

Issues in Moving Content between Platforms

  1. One of the biggest issues in making content portable (even when full permissions are available and content is built by teams working together) is that unless one avatar owns all the content and the various textures archiving and externalizing content can be a problem).
  2. 2D image formats and the ways in which transparency handling works may vary between different platforms.
  3. The 3D model formats used in transferring content between platforms, such as Collada DAE and Autodesk FBX do have many variants and some platforms may limit the number of vertices or polygons that can be included in models, or the ways in which sub-meshes can be hierarchically included.
  4. Ways in which 3D meshes are textured, or limits on the number or type of textures that can be used may be imposed.
  5. Dynamic and scripted behaviours need to be recreated in the new environment.

More Information

More information at http://blog.inf.ed.ac.uk/atate/ and http://vue.ed.ac.uk

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Seven Dales Heritage Run 2018

DLMC-Logo-sThe De Lacy Motor Club (D.L.M.C) in Yorkshire has been running rallies, car trials and driving tests for over 50 years as noted in my previous blog post. My wife Margaret and myself joined some other family members and entered the Seven Dales Heritage Run again this year for a nice run through the Yorkshire Dales…

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GDPR for Vue

Vue is a virtual educational and research institute bringing together all those interested in the use of virtual worlds for teaching, research and outreach related to the University of Edinburgh.

The Vue web site is at http://vue.ed.ac.uk. More information on the use of virtual worlds in the University of Edinburgh is available at http://blog.inf.ed.ac.uk/atate/virtual-worlds-technology-for-university-of-edinburgh/

The OpenSimulator-based Openvue grid has only a few local avatars who have regions and creator roles. Most use is as an openly accessible Hypergrid destination to allow users with avatars on other OpenSimulator grids to visit. All local (creator) users for Openvue have been notified and given contact information for the grid manager (a.tate@ed.ac.uk) if they have any queries or issues. A section has been added to the Openvue Terms of Service (ToS) to give the grid manager contact details and to explain what is logged for any visitor and for how long this is retained.


The European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to any system which stores personal data. To allow for diagnostics in the case of technical issues Openvue creates logs which record the avatar name, home grid and viewer IP address for any visitor. These logs are not shared with others and are not kept when the grid software is updated. If you have any concern about such logs and their contents please contact <a.tate@ed.ac.uk>, the grid manager.

vue@ed.ac.uk is a mailing list used to communicate occasionally between those interested in the Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue). This list is normally internal to members of the University of Edinburgh and members are added manually (by Austin Tate on request) and each message allows for unsubscription. Austin Tate can also handle manual unsubscription for anyone requesting it. The mailing list is moderated for posts and non-member posts are removed before being sent to members to keep the number of posts low and encourage people to stay on the list while it may be useful to them.

An article on how various OpenSimulator-based grids are handling GDPR is at https://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2018/06/gdpr-compliance-stymies-hypergrid-travelers/

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Virtual Worlds Technology for University of Edinburgh

Vue is a virtual educational and research institute bringing together all those interested in the use of virtual worlds for teaching, research and outreach related to the University of Edinburgh.

This post summarises some of the virtual worlds technology that is in use within the Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) community. It is provided as a single post to bring together some of the notes and blog posts for the convenience of the School of Informatics Educational Technology team.

Virtual World Platforms for Vue

  • Second Life – a commercial grid run by Linden Lab in California. Vue regions have been in place since 2007. From 2018 no paid-for regions have been retained but alternative educational spaces are available. See this blog post for advice.
  • OpenSimulator (or OpenSim) – an open source community platform. There are Vue regions on grids run by the open source community for testing and educational uses (OSGrid) and within the University of Edinburgh on servers maintained currently by Austin Tate (Openvue). A suggestion is that you use the FireStorm Viewer which works for both Second life and OpenSim.
  • Sinespace – a new platform with VR headset, desktop and mobile clients. Vue regions are maintained on this platform having been converted from the Second Life/OpenSim content via the OAR Converter tool into the Unity3D development environment for delivery in Sinespace.
  • Other platforms: Vue has used a range of platforms from “There” and “Forterra” some 15 years ago to more recent newer technology platforms such as High Fidelity, Sansar, etc.

Meetups in Virtual Worlds

Meetups can take place in facilities such as The Venue@Vue, the OpenVCE amphitheatre, and various I-Rooms (Virtual Spaces for Intelligent Interaction).


Class meetups, mixed reality workshops and conferences, seminars, etc are run in Second Life, OpenSim and on other platforms…


Virtual Graduations

Graduates (especially those achieving distance education degrees) who cannot attend physical graduations in Edinburgh can in some schools take an active part in the ceremony via participation in a virtual ceremony linked via two way video links to the McEwan hall graduations. See http://vue.ed.ac.uk/graduation.html for more details, sample images and other information.

YouTube Video (6 Minutes)
YouTube Video (6 Minutes)
[MPEG-4 Download 720p 62MB]

Educational & Training Simulations and VR

Schools such as business studies, Informatics, Education and the Dick vet have made use of simulations and experimental setups for projects and teaching in Second Life, OpenSim, Sinespace and other platforms.

2014-11-28-OpenSim-Oil-Rig 2014-11-28-OpenSim-Oil-Rig-BOP

Some of these are very effective when used with Virtual Reality (VR) headsets such as the Oculus Rift or Vive.

2014-11-28-OpenSim-Oil-Rig-VR 2014-11-28-OpenSim-Oil-Rig-BOP-VR

Virtual Art Galleries, Expo Pavilions and Demonstration Areas

A number of projects linked to museums and art galleries have created facilities to showcase their work in the Vue virtual worlds platforms. Art created by University members has also been displayed in a number of facilities… see for a summary http://blog.inf.ed.ac.uk/atate/vue-virtual-art/. For example the Infromatics Forum InSpace Gallery with artwork related to its construction period and other artwork associates with Informatics and its members, the Forum, and Vue…

An active expo pavilion and underwater gallery showcasing work on monitoring fish off a coral reef in South-East Asia was also created for the EU Fish4Knowledge project…

F4K on Openvue

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Orcrist is an elf created sword found during the journey of Thoren Oakenshield, a dwarf, in Middle Earth… and features in the Hobbit movies. I handled the Orcrist prop used for the movie while on a visit to Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand and saw one of the limited edition weapons-grade replicas at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, Yorkshire, UK.

3D Model Import to OpenSim

I made use of a Blender model by VoltaJack_ from Sketchfab which is licenced CC-BY.

Orcrist – LOTR
License: Creative Commons Attribution CC-BY-4.0
Author must be credited. Commercial use is allowed.
Model: .blend

Poly reduction and tidy up for OpenSim was done by Fred K. Beckhusen (Ferd Frederix) of Micro Technology Services, Inc. and I did the final texturing, adjustment of scale and wearable positioning and packaging.

The mesh reduction method as described by Fred is as follows.

  1. Starts at 236K triangles – about 10 X the limit. I applied a Decimate Modifier at 0.1 ratio (90% reduce) and it went to about 25K tris. Still over 4 avatars worth of triangles and more than the 21K limit. Did a 10X again (a total of 100X reduction) and it came in at 3,440 tris, looks acceptable, still a lot more than a custom build from scratch, but that what you get when you start with a high poly model.
  2. Then select all the vertexes in Edit mode with ‘a’, and do a Vertex (Ctrl-V)->Remove doubles. This drops extra vertexes.
  3. The other wise thing to always do is Mesh-Cleanup Delete-Loose to get rid of any lines or points. Opensim/Sl hates them ( there are none)
  4. Last one is Mesh->Cleanup->Limited Dissolve. This gets rid of extra dots and lines by collapsing them away.
  5. Added a smooth shader and an edge split modifier to get the blade smooth but with a sharp edge. Adds geometry, but it looks much better.
  6. Final is 3.5k tris, versus 236K. I can get it to 1.5K, but it would need more manual cleanup. I did clean up some few tris the distorted in it.
  7. Separated the end of the sword so you can add a texture.

The Blade normal map was produced using https://shadermap.com/home/

Other Swords

Swords for Download:

KangaroOz 3D
Sting Sword Lowpoly
License: Creative Commons Attribution CC-BY-4.0
Author must be credited. Commercial use is allowed.
Model: .fbx converted to Collada .dae via Blender 2.78

Jason Brenton
Orcrist Sword – Lord of the Rings
License: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial CC-BY-NC-4.0
Author must be credited. Commercial use is allowed.
Model: .fbx converted to Collada .dae via Blender 2.78

Orcrist in Second Life and OpenSim

For a while my Second Life avatar has had an Orcrist sword purchased from the Second Life Marketplace. This is shown below alongside the new Orcrist in OpenSim.

Orcrist in Scabbard

A little adjustment of the blade texture allowed a scabbard to be produced…

Orcrist Sword Prop Replica by United Cutlery

As of September 2018 I now have an Orcrist Sword Prop Replica made by United Cutlery.

United Cutlery Orcrist

Posted in Games, OpenSim, Virtual World | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Sansar Sit

At long last avatars can be made to sit down in Sansar… see this blog post for details. Currently just cross-legged on the ground. Sitting can be initiated using “/sit” typed into local chat tool in desktop mode. A very nice lead in and return to standing animation is used that looks very natural.

The full list of “/emote” commands are given in https://help.sansar.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000286366-Avatar-emotes. You can exit sitting (and other animations that play indefinitely) by using a motion control to move your avatar.

Its not currently possible still to sit on chairs, sofas, vehicles, etc. There is a good discussion in Inara Pey’s blog post on 31-Mar-2018 relating to the technicalities behind this.

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