What is the purpose of Universal Campus?
In short, Universal Campus provides an infrastructure for holding collaborative meetings, from classes, to scientific group meetings, to symposia and conferences in a virtual 3D world.
Thinking long term the 3D Web is opening new important avenues for education and research. Consider for instance, organizing a scientific meeting in a simulated environment, and compare the tradeoffs with respect to a real meeting. On the negative side, one may suggest that the quality of virtual meetings between avatars is not as compelling as face-to-face meetings between real people in the real world. This is a fair point, although one should not discount the power of technology to provide increasingly realistic haptic simulations in real time, or the additional creative inspirations that could emerge simply from being immersed in a completely novel and unusual environment. However, it must be noticed that one of the main desirable properties of a scientific meeting—allowing new ideas to emerge from serendipitous interactions between participants—is entirely preserved in a Web 3D meeting format since avatars can move around and meet in pairs or small groups randomly. Avatars can use real-time voice to communicate, as well as computer chat, which has the great advantage over voice of being asynchronous and not requiring continuous attention. Multiple chat channels can even be used in parallel. On the positive side, there are of course very considerable savings (e.g. no airplane costs or pollution, no hotel costs, no time wasted in lines) and each participant can access the meeting from anywhere in the world, possibly even from a cell phone.
What is an Avatar?
An avatar is a representation of the user within the virtual world which can be used to interact with objects or other avatars.
What is OpenSim?
"OpenSimulator is an open source multi-platform, multi-user 3D application server. It can be used to create a virtual environment (or world) which can be accessed through a variety of clients, on multiple protocols."
The Diva Distrobution (D2) contains additional features that are extremely useful, and highly recommended.
How does this all work?
The setup for a virtual world consists of several technologies, but you can view them as the following:
- OpenSim core (Diva distribution) - Main code base and engine to run the Virtual World server.
- Wifi web portal (Diva distribution) - Web interface, where you can create/edit your avatar for the Virtual World, and read this help page.
- MySQL database - Relational databases used to save settings and configurations of the Virtual World.
- Freewsitch - This is an optional software program that can be configured to host Virtual World voice conferences.
There are 2 clients that have been tested with Universal Campus:
To understand how these technologies work together view the Universal Campus software Diagram below: