"Imagine what it would be like if TV actually were good. It would be the end of everything we know." - Marvin Minksy
While visiting Japan last January, I saw a technology demostration that really captured my attention. Its called TVML (TVprogram Making Language) and it could very well change the way we relate to multimedia. It's a script description language being developed by Japanese researchers for use in producing full "TV programs" in real time virtual environments by using computer generated (CG) characters, a voice synthesizer, and familiar multimedia conventions. With this system a user should be able to dictate actions within a virtual space simply by generating a text-based script in real-time. In a TVML script, the contents and actions of a virtual space can be controlled by text-based commands such as "show title#1" or "character walk". The possibility of using voice-to-text capabilities makes this even more interesting. Written or spoken, TVML could be a very compelling way for people to script interactive virtual spaces and simulations using natural laguage approaches. It could also significantly lower the barrier to entry for a good many creative minds and allow for the rapid and low cost development of interactive virtual environments for entertainment, education, and training.
TVML was initially developed by R&D teams at NHK (Japanese Broadcasting Corporation), Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc., Hitachi, Ltd., Central Research Laboratory, and Keio University. In 2001, the project moved entirely to the NHK where the effort is being led by Hayashi-san and his team and in collaboration with researchers at NICT (The National Institute for Information and Communications Technology). The good news is that they are now working to develop a TVML API and interface module for Croquet!
The first implementation of a TVML-emabled Croquet technology is intended for a Kyoto tourism information and support system. The idea is that a character will respond to tourists questions and guide them to points of interest in a virtual Kyoto. The virtual Kyoto will also be tied in with real-world locations and the technology is therefore being developed for use on multiple real-world display devices. Click here to learn more about TVML.