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Last month, h+ covered the work of Professor Byron Reeves, who champions the adaptation of gaming technologies for the workplace. Around the same time, David Helgason of Unity, a company that produces game development tools for the Web, mobile phones, and the Wii announced “The Year of Gamification” on the Unity blog (See Resources). For Helgason, gamification is the application of game technology and game design outside “gamespace” and the acceptance of games in non-gaming sectors. Usually, Helgason’s customers use his technology to create games like Zombieville for the iPhone. But lately, he’s noted an increase in customers using Unity to create employee training programs, among other things. h+ talked with Helgason to get a sense of the practical consequences of gamification.
h+: You’ve recently seen numerous non-game uses of Unity, one of which is Quartier Saint-Blaise, a model of Paris that allows people to navigate through proposed urban planning projects. What’s the story behind Saint-Blaise and what other non-gaming projects use Unity?
Helgason: I think it was basically a very high-res data set of Paris, taken from planes. You know… where you fly over a city and continuously photograph it and use some analysis technology to turn it into 3-D with textures and everything. I don't know the amount of the data, but it’s massive. If you go on our website and walk around on our Island Demo (see Resources), you get to walk around on this tropical island. It’s very lush and beautiful. That piece of terrain is a couple of miles on the side. And those guys, I think, had a thousand of those sectors, a massive data set.
Another example that is really cool is something called the Visible Body (see Resources), which somebody has described as a Google Earth for the body. It’s an amazing product, from a company out of New York (Argosy Publishing). They put a very high-res, detailed model of the body into Unity and very good tools to kind of peel off the layers and see different bones and nerves and blood vessels. They’re licensing that as a tool for medical professionals.