3D Internet gives the internet services and users a shape. Internet of Things connects the items of our environment and enables monitoring and maintenance over the internet. Integrated, 3D Internet and Internet of Things may change our perception of the world!
What Is 3D Internet?
The essence of 3D Internet is to give the services a shape using networked 3D graphics. In 3D Internet, the user is depicted by his/her avatar. This results in a strong presence of the users. The services are networked using teleports, thus the 3D Internet and the current web are rather similar in technology.
Compared to the current web, the main differences in 3D Internet are:
1. Giving the services a shape using 3D graphics and
2. Giving the users a shape by using avatars.
Giving the services a shape in the 3D Internet is not restricted to copying the corresponding physical world service. Virtual space is unrestricted and the laws of physics need not be remembered. A diving store in the 3D internet can be located in an abyss of the ocean and the 3D Internet travel agent’s office may be located on the dark side of the moon!
Giving the users a shape gives the users more visibility and thus more presence. In the current web, the user is most often alone.
In the 3D Internet connecting to other users is easy, as the avatars visualize the users.
Seeing other users at the same service one is using – common interests – makes connecting, communication and sharing views natural.
What is Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things consists of items in our everyday environment with inbuilt communications chips connected to the Internet.
These items can be buildings, machines, electrical appliances, foodstuff – you name it! As communications chips and their power consumption have shrunk, it has become natural to equip items in our everyday environment with these chips.
Once the items in our environment are connected, it is possible to monitor their state and control them via different devices. In a simple example you may want to ask your living room lamp whether you forgot to turn it off when you left for Hawaii and then turn it off if necessary, all via your mobile device. A little more complexity is involved when your fridge tells you how many and how fresh eggs are left when you are pondering on buying some at the local store. The Internet of Things makes monitoring the state of our environment and reacting to it – even automatically – very natural and easy.
3D Internet and Internet of Things Integration
The abundance of items in our environment creates a usability problem: once you have more than ten lamps you wish to monitor and control you need to be able to easily visualize the current state of the items and the control possibilities. The 3D Internet is a natural user interface for the Internet of Things as the 3D Internet gives the services and users shape – visualizes a great number of items in a simple, easily understandable way.
IBM has already 5 years ago used 3D Internet and Internet of Things to monitor and control datacenters. One 3D world may contain user interfaces for several datacenters, making it possible to control all datacenters globally from one point.
This case study is imaginary, but was inspired by the real-life construction of an underground parking area in Oulu, Finland.
An underground parking area in the city center eases traffic solutions and leaves space above the ground for buildings and parks. However, an underground parking area can be strange and even frightening to the driver.
Efficient use of an underground parking area means different things for the vehicle drivers, parking area operators and public authorities.
For the drivers, efficient use of the parking area means leaving your vehicle as close as possible to where one is headed and finding it easily once it is time to leave.
For the parking area operators, efficient use of the area means fast entrance and exit from the parking area as well as a good occupancy rate. To achieve a good occupancy rate, the usability experience for the drivers at the parking area must be positive.
From the viewpoint of the public authorities, the underground parking area must be safe. Using the parking area must be safe, and procedures for different situations such as accidents or mass events must be very clear. Optimal use of traffic lights and digital displays is central in preventing traffic jams in challenging situations.
A general 3D model of the underground parking area is a good starting point. A general 3D model can be used to visualize location of individual vehicles or people, traffic flow, occupancy rate, accident or emergency situations and mass events in and around the parking area. However, efficient visualization requires a comprehensive sensor / communication chip network in the underground parking area. This network includes e.g. cameras, car proximity and motion sensors and uses different wireless (and wired) solutions such as WLAN, Bluetooth or 802.15.4 radio with proprietary or preferably IPv6/6LoWPAN network layer (end-to-end full IP).
Before Bob the Builder is summoned, the 3D model can be used to train the future personnel of the underground parking area in monitoring, using, servicing and evacuating the area. Thus the underground parking area can be opened for users as soon as construction work is ready. Plans may even be altered before construction due to needs spotted during the pre-construction use of the 3D model. This testing improves the usability- and therefore the occupancy rate – of the final underground parking area.
The integration of the 3D model and the comprehensive sensor / communication chip network makes it possible to create mobile applications. These applications can aid the drivers to find a parking place near their destination and guide them back to their vehicles when leaving or even offer additional services such as a car wash.
Technology Reasoning and Decision Making
The likes of solutions mentioned in the Case Study are easily created using technology available today. Such solutions can economize monitoring and maintenance costs of buildings, bridges etc by as much as 90%. It is probable, that this integration will change the way we perceive our environment – once we overcome the inertia of adopting this integration!