Sears’ Using Second Life for Previewing

Interesting bit of news from 3pointD (Link) as word is that Sears, in partnership with IBM, will be using Second Life as a kind of preview system for their customers. From the blog entry:

The plan is to allow a customer to import their own kitchen design to the virtual space, fit it out with Sears products, and be able to move around in it as they would a real kitchen in order to get a feel for how the products would work in their kitchen at home.

“It’s currently one kitchen layout, but ultimately you’ll be able to bring in your own kitchen from Google SketchUp or another application,” Rowe said. “You’ll be able to place Sears products in the kitchen itself, change the countertops and cabinet facings. Ultimately, the entire Sears catalog will be available.

The immediate goal is actually pretty simple to achieve in Second Life. That they’re spending millions on this effort tells me someone will have a nice payday. As to “ultimately” bringing in data from Sketchup or some other app, that will be a bit trickier. Consequently, I look forward to seeing what a dedicated IBM effort yields; especially one with money to play. Stay tuned.

7 thoughts on “Sears’ Using Second Life for Previewing

  1. As far as I know (and please correct me if I’m wrong) you can’t really import anything into SecondLife.
    I found this out when I created a some accessories in Bryce and sent them to my sister who is an avid participant.
    She sent me an email ht e gist of which was “Um, what do you expect me to do with this?”
    That also became the reason I don’t participate in SecondLife, the proprietary and very clunky (compared with say Maya) creation

    As far as the scheme above, I think IKEA should try something similar. Their style of thing would lend itself well to virtual
    exploration, and save me the hassle of actually *going* there.

  2. It’s possible to import, but each face of a polymesh becomes a full primitive (similar to some of what I’ve seen occur when importing meshes into brush-based level editors). The SL modeling system is more like a CAD application in that it’s parametric.

    I use a number of 3D tools – Pro/ENGINEER, Maya, Alias Studio, Max, etc – so I also consider the SL tools extremely rudimentary, but the reason to use SL is not for the 3D tools.

  3. Right, but *my* reasons were creative and therefore a limited
    and counter-intuitive toolset was a major deciding factor on whether
    or not to play.
    To be fair, I’ve seen a good deal of awesome content created for it
    using those tools, for example: the works of Ameshin.

  4. If your reasons are “creative”, then the toolset is irrelevant. Sometimes creativity comes from dealing with restrictions, and can even be enhanced by them.

    When I was taking car design classes, Chrysler demanded we all use large pieces of charcoal and newsprint… and do sketches in 5-10 seconds. Many people would say that, compared to other media and conditions, those requirements were “limited and counter-intuitive”, yet some of my most creative work came during those sessions and I still use that technique to be “creative”. I use other, more refined media (pens, pencils, markers, aso) when the idea is in my head and I’m moving into a phase where I’m communicating that idea, which is not normally as intensely creative.

    I’m not saying SL is necessarily the same, but I’ve found that sometimes it can be.

  5. Sure, thats also very true, I developed the majority of my drawing skills in restrictive conventional media which, without a doubt, increased my skill as an artist overall and set the foundations for the digital stuff I do now.
    But it’s a matter of preference. I don’t prefer the Second Life tool-set.
    I don’t prefer it on the basis that I find it too limiting to be a good use of my time. Especially for something which is, essentially, a leisure activity, or was for me anyway.
    And do you think it’s fair to say that “sometimes creativity comes from dealing with restrictions” equates to “the toolset is irrelevant”.

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  7. And do you think it’s fair to say that “sometimes creativity comes from dealing with restrictions” equates to “the toolset is irrelevant”.

    I think that citing toolset restrictions and unfamiliarity (“counter-intuitive”) with them as an impediment to “creativity” is the issue. That’s not the same thing as saying “I don’t prefer”. And here’s the bigger issue: almost no one in that car design class preferred doing what the instructors wanted; everyone wanted to pull out the markers and make the hawt renderings. They didn’t want to get out messy black charcoal. Yet more creativity came from dealing with something that the class *didn’t* prefer than in all the hyper-tight, bird-shit covered trash that had come before.

    Ergo, sometimes – and perhaps most times – challenging oneself to use “counter-intuitive” tools and working around their limitations brings out our creativity. Whenever I’m designing something and the ideas aren’t coming, the first thing I do is change media because that takes me out of my comfort zone and forces me to really think.

    Anyways, I’m out the door for a day or two, so this will have to continue when I’m re-connected.

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