You just can't beat some people can you? Having just nipped into SL for a look around, I recieved an invitation to the PA Consulting demo island. It seemed like a good place to visit, & I wondered if, for once, I could scoop Aleister Kronos at finding a new location. You've guessed it - no one can find a new island faster than Al - he's blogged it already :-(
Still, seing as I'd grabbed a few photos myself, here is my review of the PA Consulting Demo.....
My interest in the PA Demo is that it was billed as being "a demonstrator for business use of SL".... which just happens to be my raison d'etre for exploring... so definitely worth a visit.
The island is quite impressive, with great plumes of blue smoke and banners. Set the time to midnight for maximum effect. (I did have a photo to insert at this point, but Aleister has a far better image on his blog entry !)
There are 4 main demonstrators - a bank, a racecourse, a BP Filling station and an airport.
The bank has, apparently, been used by PA to gauge user reactions to a number of different RL bank layouts. This scenario was the sort of thing that first sprang to mind when I began to look at SL. Early experience "in world" had led me to believe that it was not such a good idea.... you just can't create a detailed enough space to be of real use. The PA example, however, has applied some neat scripting to allow the layouts to be quickly swapped around. The bank interiors were well presented, and the overall effect was good. They have also taken the opportunity to pepper the bank with a whole host of brand names... product placement or what!
A set of panels outside the bank showed the sort of feedback they'd been getting. There was also a video of one of the evaluation sessions..... so this was real use of SL, not just speculation about what could be achieved.
Next I visited the BP filling station. Apparently this was to demonstrate how the 3D simulation could be used to show where underground tanks and pipes run. Again, the representation was a good copy of the real thing. The shop had been set up with bitmaps of sweets and magazines - just enough to create the feeling of a real shop (but without the ability to mess with the goods on display).
Over the road was the racetrack. This was, apparently, a training facility to educate users into the ways of betting. I found it interesting the way that they had used cardboard cut-outs to fill the betting hall with people - simple but effective way of creating a crowd!
Finally there was the airport. After going through check-in (complete with magically appearing suitcase!) it was up the ramp and onto the airbus to try out the seats. There were a couple of other visitors there at the time, but they seemed far too interested in changing the colour of the lights, and chatting up the cardboard cut-out air stewardess to be interested in speaking to me.
As an aeroplane interior, I felt it left a bit to be desired.... but for an SL sim it was pretty good. (again, though, it does raise the question of how good is SL as a simulator for RL places??)
I only paid the island a flying visit, but what I saw was quite impressive. I felt that the demonstrators had a lot more "meat" to them than, say, the IBM Sears demonstrator The sims had just enough detail to provide some realism, without being overly complex builds, showing some innovation in their construction. In light of this island, I think I might have to think again about the viability of SL as a way of simulating RL environments - PA seem to have made it work..... though they have been thoughtful about what to try to emulate.