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Section 4: Collaborative Virtual Environments#

4.4 Systems overview#

Two Collaborative Virtual Environments are compared for this guide, ActiveWorlds and Blaxxun. These are both on-line communities with a more or less commercial interest, accessible via the World Wide Web. Another system, not compared in this Guide, is Deepmatrix from Geometrek. Deepmatrix is an open-source system that enables anyone with some Java and VRML skills to design and maintain avatars and shared worlds on their own on-line community server.

Two projects using CVE technology are included in the Virtual Reality Case Study Library:

  • CyberAxis, a three-dimensional virtual gallery with multi-user access. CyberAxis is based on the Axis database, the national register of contemporary British artists, and offers a completely new interface to browse the database
  • Building Babel II, an experimental workshop which took place over three days in September 1998 at Coventry School of Art and Design. The workshop was an exploration of the issues surrounding the construction and use of CVEs, specifically by the art and design community.

In addition, there are systems that exist as prototypes in the academic environment, usually requiring high-end graphics computers for their development. Such prototypes have influenced the development of the on-line communities and two in particular should be mentioned:

  • The DIVE system is an experimental platform for the development of multi-user environments. Launched by The Swedish Institute of Computer Science (SICS), it focuses on interaction with and the behaviour of objects in a virtual world
  • MASSIVE is a distributed virtual reality tele-conferencing system developed by the Communications Research Group at Nottingham University. MASSIVE allows groups of people to hold meetings in a virtual conference room, supported by real-time audio communication and shared workspaces in the form of blackboards.

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