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Use of context notation in virtual world chat applications to orientate characters and represent conversation participants Disclosure Number: IPCOM000176886D
Original Publication Date: 2008-Nov-27
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2008-Nov-27
Document File: 2 page(s) / 42K

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A convention used in Twitter is the "@name" notation, used to indictate the person for whom a comment is intended. We take this notation into virtual worlds such as Second Life, and demonstrate how it could be used to physically orient conversing avatars to reflect the way in which conversation might take place in real life.

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Use of context notation in virtual world chat applications to orientate characters and represent conversation participants

In multi user chat environments, it can be difficult to determine when a particular comment or remark is directed at a particular participant in the conversation.

    Applications such as Twitter (see use a notation that allows any a comment to be directed at one or more individuals. Their notation uses the '@' sign, followed by the name of the user to whom they are talking.

For example, a snapshot of some "twitters" might look like this (most recent posts at the top):
alex: anyone wanna join me for lunch?
pete: @

jon yeah apparently the disk was full - you tried it again this afternoon?

steve: @matt yeah I just installed foobar, although it doesn't quite work how I wanted

jon: hey all, anyone worked out by blah wasn't working earlier?


just installed a new application call fooba

- it's really great

All of these twitters are visible to all of the users, but the use of the @username notation allows people to distinguish which remarks are specifically aimed at them.

    The virtual world of SecondLife has a similar multi user chat feature, whereby many people standing near each other can type messages which can be "heard" by everyone close by. In SecondLife however, each user is represented by an avatar - a human-like representation of themselves. When users type messages, they are generally standing in a fairly arbitrary position, as it can be difficult and impractical to continously change your character's orientation at the same time as typing messages.

    So, for example, a user may wish to direct their chat at one member of the group, and move their avatar to face the member`s avatar as people do in real life: however, continously moving their avatar as the user types text to other members isn't very practical.

    The system herein, combines existing technologies to make multi user conversations in virtual worlds such as SecondLife more lifelike and representative of the conversations people are involved in.

    It does this by using user notations (for example, the @username notation used by Twitter) to determine which character(s) a message is directed at. Once this is known, the chatting user's avatar is re-oriented to face the user that matches that @username notation. If more than one @username is specified, the avatar orients itself to face somewhere in between the other avatars, similar to the way people would do in the real world.

    Other users are still able to overhear a conversation, much as they would in the real world, but i...