Future of the
Virtual Pet Design & Consulting Services
Virtual Pet? A Virtual Mess! A Zoo Keeper’s Perspective By George L. Stanley reviews the holographic pet from V.P. Inc.Other technologies will include increased use of higher speed 3-D hardware and software with increasing use of virtual reality components (vision goggles, gloves, ect) and increased use of artificial intelligence combined with robotics (physical virtual pets). Years ago, we though holographics might make a showing, It has yet to rival the other technologies, but who knows what the future holds.
The fine points of gravity simulation and collision detection will be perfected at the entry PC level. As textures, lighting, and shading will improve, animation will become more realistic. Advancements in artificial intelligence will make learning and interaction appear more realistic
The physical applications (tamagotchi) will be far expanded to actually create "virtual cats and dogs". Fluid quadruped and biped motion will be mastered, including gait, turning, and switching leads (lead foot). Much of this prediction has already started to come to pass. Heavy duty 3-D CAD packages (like Pro Engineer and Solid Works) combined with math modeling modules will enable the design of increasingly mobile complex creatures.
One of the real challenges will be true bird flight. Gliding flight on a large scale was obtained by the robot pterodactyl at the Smithsonian a few years ago. Perhaps some financial prizes will be established similar to those for human powered flight will help to focus on problem areas such as these.
You can get more info on current and near future virtual pet technologies from our Links page in the Virtual Pet Research Technology section.
Currently solid objects can be digitized by laser scanning them and a 3-D model can then be made. This process will used to scan existing pets to make 3-D models of them. These models will then be animated and you can have a "virtual pet" version of your real pet. You can input his basic personality and actions and this virtual pet can accompany you on your pc (as a computer virtual pet) and in the real world (as a physical virtual pet) to places fido can't go as well as it can accompany you after the real "fido" is deceased.
Another version of the above process is currently done by using top, side and front photo of an object to create a 3-D model. Agencies could specialize in creating animated pet models (computer and real world) from photos sent in or scanned and sent over the net to them.
Anyone interested in physical virtual fish should see the work done at MIT on the Robo-Tuna. A general discussion and several references to it are given on another Polson Enterprises web site. Our Recreational Boat Building Industry website has a product technology section with an area providing Robo-Tuna Information.
We see a huge future in the area of physical virtual pets. Applications will range from stuffed animals that look like your real pet to full blown artificial intelligence driven robot virtual pets that are almost undistinguishable from the real thing.
This "becoming the pet" concept will probably first be played out with online pets, but it doesn't seem to sound as interesting as it will be when you get to go one on one with your neighbor's real dog.
An artificial intelligent sheep dog might stand watch over a herd at night and send you live video or even call you on his cell phone when problems occur.
We see applications ranging from very light weight screen savers to heavy duty full blown virtual reality applications complete with goggles and sensing gloves. To highly developed physical "virtual pets"
We've long envisioned a remote controlled fish or shark that could be driven around in an aquarium by its owner. You could play with the other fish and amaze visitors.
Therapy applications for the mentally handicapped, those in prison, and other will abound.
The military and police might make use of physical "virtual dogs" in security and sniffing applications.
Physical virtual pets could be made to look like anything, including people.
With the June 97 Wall Street Journal announcement of the Tamahonam (gangster) keychain pet that smokes, drinks, and uses a knife for "turf wars" we can immediately foresee a whole new world of "bad guys" and "bad gals." Drug using virtual pets, ladies of the evening virtual pets, gay virtual pets, imprisoned virtual pets, computer hacker virtual pets, and other possibilities come to mind. As we said earlier, we think the virtual world is like the real world and will eventually be populated by all living things and a lot of things, just imagined. Their survival will be somewhat like real life with natural selection (sales) determining the strongest while the weak (few sales) go to extinction.
Physical virtual pets (dog and cat robots) will allow a fuller experience of pet ownership, and as mentioned in the applications section, could actually open a new realm of pet ownership as you control the pet and interact with other animals (real or virtual).
As more virtual pets become available in both breadth (more kinds of pets) and depth (more selections within each kind of pet) we can see collectors coming into the scene. Just as many people now collect things with horses, or pigs, or chickens on them - people will collect certain types of virtual pets. Also some may collect antique virtual pets.
The users will be composed of many groups and segments of the population. Each group will have its own interests and needs. This type of environment brings out the best in the producers of virtual pets as the large and small companies vie for dominance in many different areas.
The Wall Street Journal article on our Hoyotan Tamago (Virtual Gangster) Page mentions that some schools have actually provided counseling to students when their virtual pet died.
We see a number of "non-pet" attributes being added to both physical and computer virtual pets. Thing like radio music, talking or chiming or barking clocks, human speech or a made up language that can be understood like "Klingon", voice activated portable or cell phones, smoke alarms, alarm clocks, many PDA (personal digital assistant) functions, radio weather report, time and temp report, and others. Those with children just reaching the age of being able to be left a lone by themselves might gain added security from a virtual pet that could call the parents or emergency numbers in case of problems, fire, or other emergencies. Their might even be a virtual pet especially developed for this light duty "baby sitting" role? Others might be developed more for home security purposes. A roaming virtual dog with motion sensors and the ability to bark, control lights, alarms, and make phone calls could be quite a deterrent.
We can foresee a time when virtual animal rights groups will even come into action. At first they will be a joke ran by a high school (or grade school) kid. Then they will be taken over by zealots that might even have a point. Perhaps treating virtual animals poorly will lead to treating actual animals poorly.
Some of the technologies and products might be transferred to real pets to increase their utility? Small cell phones, small videocams, alarms, clocks, smart cards for entry in certain places, pre-recorded messages, and other items that might become a part of your real pet's collar or be somehow carried by your pet might make your real pet even more valuable to you?
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