Speaking about 1st Life and 2nd Life connections, the Flavonoid project by Near-Future Laboratory colleague Julian Bleecker is of great interest. To put it shortly, it's a mechanism for translating embodied, kinesthetic activity into 2nd Life actions.
A homebrew, Internet-enabled kinesthetic sensor, conceptually similar to a traditional pedometer, is being designed as a networked object that bridges the geophysical worlds (1st Life) and online digitally networked worlds (2nd Life). By providing data feeds about the kinesthetic activities of the person wearing Flavonoid, various embodiments representing that data can be created in 2nd Life, such as the appearance of online avatars, or that avatar’s wealth or capabilities.
So how does it work?
The Flavonoid Kinesthometer, a wearable networkable device, can transfer data as a networked object, providing simple data feeds of one’s movement over long periods of time. This data provides a channel of RSS information used as a baseline of information that can be translated to 2nd Life representations. (...) Flavonoid is envisioned as a platform, using standard, open feed technologies, for a variety of embodiments. The initial embodiment being a dynamic site “badge” — a small snippet of HTML that can be embedded on virtually any site, such as one’s blog or social networking home page.
The Flavonoid project proposal gives a more thorough description of what is aimed at here.
Why do I blog this because this project takes the "Internet of Things" in a more interesting mode that what we've seen so far. By creating a framework for linking digital environments and the material world ("the leakage of digital networks into the physical world turns that world into a framework for a hybrid 1st Life/2nd Life"), it redefines the notion of embodiment in both environments.
This is an issue that interest me both to think about the future of ubiquitous applications and also as a user experience researcher. From a psychological point of view, there are intriguing questions to address here; especially regarding the overlap of spatial environments, their perception and how the interaction in each of them have an influence in the others.