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Home > Press > Press Releases > KidsRoom2

Nearlife To Create a “KidsRoom2” That Comes Alive; Dramatic, New Entertainment Form Will Debut at London’s Millennium Dome

Nearlife Proprietary Technologies Create New Forms of “Living Entertainment”; Deliver Vivid Immersive Experiences to Web- and Location-Based Venues

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - October 4, 1999 - Nearlife Inc. announced today that it has signed a contract to develop the KidsRoom2, a revolutionary form of "Living Entertainment™" to be featured at London’s Millennium Dome. KidsRoom2 will be one of the leading attractions in the Play zone at The Millennium Dome in Greenwich, England, just outside of London. The Dome, which will open to the public in January, is considered the largest and most ambitious millennium celebration in the world. It is expected to attract over 15 million visitors during 2000.

Nearlife is an entertainment company that creates cutting-edge technologies to develop new forms of entertainment experiences. KidsRoom2 will immerse children in an interactive, highly stimulating and dreamlike experience, complete with talking furniture and animated playmates coupled with vivid action, music, light and sound. Nearlife is also developing comparable forms of "Living Entertainment" for debut on the Web.

Children of all ages entering KidsRoom2 will be transported beyond storybook pages into a fully immersive, real-time, three-dimensional environment. The KidsRoom2 will take the form of a child’s fantasy bedroom, where a virtual bird comes to life and takes flight, a boat navigates raging rivers, and mischievous monkeys lead children on grand adventures. The interactive animal characters are actually programmed to exhibit their own unique personality traits. [Editors please note: colorful high-resolution images of the monkeys and bird available upon request.]

Utilizing Nearlife’s proprietary immersive technologies, such as its Directable Character technology and Immersive Tracking System, the children “travel” in a team of four on an entertaining quest within this magical and colorful new realm. They learn the importance of teamwork; they encounter surprises along the way, and they quickly realize that their actions have consequences and that their decisions produce specific results. Parents and other visitors can view the KidsRoom2 experience from a gallery just outside the exhibit.

KidsRoom2 will utilize seven PCs and two 4x3-meter, rear-projected walls. Nearlife is creating the experience in collaboration with Land Design Studio of London, the designers of Play zone, one of 14 zones within the Millennium Dome. The zones will immerse visitors in the various aspects of life as we move into the new millennium - including Work, Rest, Play, Mind, Body, Faith, Learn, Talk and Journey.

“KidsRoom2 represents a dramatic breakthrough in entertainment,” says Nearlife founder Dr. Tinsley Galyean. “It breaks the mold of both traditional and virtual reality entertainment, and sets the stage for the bold, new world of immersive entertainment. We’re very proud to be showcasing our technologies and storytelling capabilities to this global audience.”

According to Peter Higgins, Creative Director at Land Design Studio, “Nearlife is exceptionally well suited to develop KidsRoom2. We chose them for this high-profile project because of their proven track record in blending sophisticated creative and technical capabilities into stunning entertainment experiences.”

KidsRoom2 was inspired by a demonstration project at the MIT Media Lab under the KidsRoom name. Professor Aaron Bobick, creator of the original project, is a consultant to Nearlife on the KidsRoom2 exhibit.

The Virtual FishTank
Nearlife made its debut in 1998 with the Virtual FishTank at Boston’s Computer Museum (now part of the Museum of Science). The 2,200-square foot, permanent exhibit focuses on the schooling behavior of simulated cartoon-like fish. Visitors are immersed in an undersea world where they can change the rules for the fish and also create their own fish. Visitors and the fish interact with each other, helping to blend the real and virtual environments-making the experience near-to-life.

“We will use many of the same creative processes and immersive technologies in KidsRoom KidsRoom2 was inspired by a demonstration project at the MIT Media Lab as we do with the Virtual FishTank,” Galyean added. “This ensures that we deliver meaningful, group learning experiences packaged as enjoyable entertainment. We think the market is hungry for this kind of dramatic entertainment breakthrough.”

More information on the Virtual FishTank can be obtained at Nearlife’s Web site, www.nearlife.com.

Living Entertainment
“Nearlife is integrating established entertainment techniques with emerging technologies, helping us pave the way to place our immersive, location-based experiences directly on the Web -- the ultimate venue for new forms of entertainment,” he said. Galyean indicated that Nearlife’s Virtual FishTank will be the first of its entertainment experiences to be placed on the Web for mass-audience interaction at home.

According to Nearlife President David O’Connor, “We believe that immersive experiences must be infused with elements of character, story and plot if they are to succeed as living entertainment for mass audiences. By coupling our proprietary technologies with high-quality production values, we are guiding and greatly enriching the participant’s experience. In essence, we are bringing cinematic techniques to virtual environments to create universally appealing entertainment experiences. It’s a whole new realm of immersive storytelling.”

O’Connor was named Nearlife’s president in 1998. He brings over 20 years of management experience with technology and content companies. Most recently, he was with Addison Wesley Longman, the world’s largest educational publisher, where he was founder and general manager of a division developing and publishing technology-based educational products for children.

More About The Millennium Dome
Located on the Prime Meridian -- longitude zero -- Greenwich is the world’s official timekeeper and the site of the world’s largest celebration of the Millennium. The Millennium Dome will house the world’s largest concentration of visitor attractions under one roof. It is the largest domed facility in the world, situated on a 181-acre site. The Dome is twice the size of Atlanta’s Georgia Dome and could fully contain Egypt’s Pyramid of Gaza or the Eiffel Tower (on its side). More information about The Millennium Dome can be obtained at www.dome2000.co.uk.

More About Nearlife
Nearlife Inc. creates cutting-edge technologies to develop new forms of living entertainment that immerse audiences in near-to-life experiences. Based in Cambridge, MA and founded by Tinsley and Sheri Galyean in 1996, the entertainment firm was spun-off from the MIT Media Lab. Tinsley Galyean received his Ph.D. from the Interactive Cinema Group at MIT’s Media Lab. The Media Lab is highly regarded for inventing and advancing new forms of interactive entertainment and communications. Sheri Galyean is the author of an award-winning animated short story and has written several film and game concepts as well as a virtual reality story experience.

More About Land Design Studio
Land Design Studio is a young and innovative design consultancy with cross-disciplinary expertise in architecture, exhibitions, interior design, theatre film & TV, graphics and production. Synonymous with some of the best museum and visitor attractions around the world, Land Design Studio was appointed by the New Millennium Experience Company as designers of Play zone in October 1997.

All trademarks, service marks and company names are the property of their respective owners.

For Information Contact:
Jim Brady
Nearlife Inc.
(617) 491-3184

Ross Cook
New Millennium Experience Company
(44) 171 808 8308

Linda Stevens
(on behalf of Land Design Studio)
(44) 1959 533 226


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