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mWORLDS: Cyberenvironments and Virtual Worlds


Roy Campbell (Computer Science) and Guy Garnett (Music / eDream)


NCSA's Robert McGrath and Mary Pietrowicz


Ben Smith, Brett Jones, Raj Sodhi, Tony Reimer, Stephen Lett, AJ Christensen

The mWorlds project will integrate research in virtual world creation tools and shared, persistent, digital environments with NCSA's expertise and technology in collaborative computing and cyberenvironments. The end result will be the beginnings of an extensible open source framework for building shared, persistent, highly scalable 3D virtual environments that will be suitable for a wide range of applications from the sciences, to education, to the arts.

Unlike commercially available virtual worlds such as Second Life and Active Worlds, mWorlds will provide support for a variety of input devices: from environmental sensor nets for scientific simulations to motion tracking devices in dance performance. It will also support scientifically accurate simulations and visualizations and operating with large-scale datasets in distributed computing environments.

A key design goal is to make it possible, even easy, for non-specialist users to create or customize their own virtual world without having to leave the virtual world environment, and to maximize the capability to communicate objects, avatars, and behaviors between such worlds. Our goal therefore is to create tools for developing virtual worlds that would make such resources as easy to use as the world wide web. Such virtual world building tools are also important for educators to be able to create context specific virtual worlds for collaborative, experiential learning. NCSA's MMOLES (Massively Multiuser Online Learning Environments) project is another application area that we intend to actively collaborate with.

This project is part of a collaboration of researchers from many departments at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The fellowship will build on NCSA's cyberenvironments and cyberinfrastructure, and will create new environments for collaboration, computing, and creativity.