A key goal of Cosma is to have a 3D interface to enable spatial Knowledge Navigation of the Knowledge Resources on the site. There have been many attempts to do this with many types of software over the years (HyperCard, SecondLife, Unity3D etc.). You can find out more about this on the Worlds Challenge page.
Toy Worlds are a new 3D interface to Cosma.
They are literally “Toy Worlds” because they are dioramas created with dollhouse furniture and other miniature toys that are photographed with a RICOH THETA S 360° Camera. The resulting 360° photos are posted on Kuula in order to overlay links.
They are also figuratively “Toy Worlds” in that they are just prototypes intended to serve as placeholders for more sophisticated Worlds created with software such as Unity. The reason those worlds do not exist yet is because there is no way to publish sufficiently complex 3D worlds on the Web at the present time. Hopefully there will be someday.
In the meantime, Toy Worlds are doing the trick.
Here is the first in a series of interactive 360° images that are serving as an interface to Cosma.
Click on objects to find out about them.
Use the menu or doors to visit other Toy Worlds.
You can also explore this Toy World on Kuula.
I bought a RICOH THETA S 360° awhile ago.
I didn’t want me and/or the house in every shot as I learned to use the camera.
Then I had an idea! Why not use a lamp shade to cover the camera?
I tried that, but the only lamp shades in the house were too little to get a sense of the focal point and resolution in the shots.
There was lamp shade shopping to be done.
That is how I found myself in a Target with a lamp shade on my head checking out the view.
So, I found the perfect lamp shade and started to learn how to shoot 360° images.
Of course, inside a lamp shade is boring!
That’s why I also grabbed some cheap, silly stuff at Target when I got the lamp shade.
Next I decided to test out the 360° photo sharing service called RoundMe.
It has the ability to add links, so I decided to make something more elaborate to test out the linking capabilities.
Here’s a 360° image of the first “shade world” that I created to test links in RoundMe.
This is the interactive version of the image.
It was around this time that I realized that a more elaborate version of this approach might work for doing “previs” for the “microworlds” that I plan to make and embed on Cosma when there’s a good way to post high quality, interactive 3D spaces on the Web.
I began going in this direction by creating a “Fishbowl” world in a literal fishbowl.
This is the resulting 360° image.
This is the interactive version.
Then I found this adorable dollhouse in a local antique shop, and I just had to start making some far more elaborate demos!
In order to get more objects in the dollhouse and provide closure to the space, I built it out with wooden frames. It was also around this time that I dubbed what I was dong Toy Worlds.
So, here is the Beach House Toy World.
Then the frames took on a life of their own!
Things went on from there to become the interface to Cosma that Toy Worlds are today — there are more than ten Toy Worlds distributed across the site in strategic locations.
Unfortunately, RoundMe ceased operations in January 2023, so the 360° photos were re-uploaded and coded in a different 360° photo sharing service called Kuula.
The Toy Worlds saga has come to its natural conclusion as far as 3D interfaces to Cosma goes. The next generation of 3D interface will require a new 3D web platform. Watch for updates about this on the Worlds Challenge page.
While I don’t plan on creating Toy Worlds, that doesn’t mean that there is no future for them. They also happen to be a great, newfangled way to do good old dioramas. I’m hoping that elementary school teachers and anyone raising an elementary school child will not only enjoy exploring Toy Worlds@Cosma — they might be inspired to create some of their own!