International Business Machines Corporation (Armonk, NY)

A computer implemented method and apparatus for floating object transitions. One version of the invention collects tracking data that identifies a place for an avatar with respect to the range of objects in an imaginary universe. The range is comprised of a viewable area. In response to the tracking data signalling the trigger condition, a set of flotation regulations that correspond to the trigger event is identified. A suitable location and orientation for the object are identified for each flotation operation in the flotation rules associated with the set of flotation rules. To allow the object to flotation over the surface the set of flotation actions is initiated. The object’s location changes and orientation of the object conformity with the set of flotation actions that are a part of the set of flotation rules.

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention is related generally to a system for processing data and, in particular, to an apparatus and method to manage objects within a virtual universe. Particularly, the present invention is directed towards an apparatus, method, or computer-implemented method, and computer usable program code for floating designated objects within a virtual world.

2. Description of the Related Art

Virtual universes (VU), also known as the metaverse or “3D Internet” is a computer-generated simulated world. Virtual universes are described as Second Life.RTM. and Entropia Universe.RTM.. There, Red Light Center, and Ultima Online.RTM.. (WoW).

Many virtual universes are depicted using three-dimensional (3-D) images and landscapes. The elements and properties of the virtual world often resemble the properties of reality, like in the sense of physics, houses, andlandscapes. Virtual universes may be populated by thousands of users simultaneously. Users are sometimes called “residents” in a virtual universe.

Users in a virtual universe are able interact with as they move through the virtual world through the use of avatars. An avatar is a graphic representation of a user which can be observed and manipulated by other people in the virtual world. The avatar’s appearance is typically selected by the user. It often looks cartoonishly like the human form. However, avatars may include non-human characters like animals, elves, trolls orcs, fairies and many other fantasy creatures.

A viewable field is the viewable area for an individual user. A user’s viewable field may contain objects and avatars of other users. An object is one of the elements of a virtual world that doesn’t represent the auser. A virtual object can be billboards, buildings, or statues in the virtual universe. The viewable field of a particular user is determined by the software for the virtual universe grid using the geometries and texturesthat are loaded into the client’s virtual universe. The grid of the virtual universe decides the amount of time users can view an object, based on the processing of the information that is sent to every virtual universe client.

There are many objects in virtual universes. One or more objects may be obscured by objects in virtual environments. A sign, for instance, could be obscured by a statue or a larger sign. Some objects might be difficult to spot due to their relative positions and other factors like lighting or color.

The illustrative embodiments provide an algorithm that is computer-implemented and an apparatus to perform floating objects that are able to transition. In one embodiment, data that determines the position of an avatar in relation to a range of an object within a virtual universe is received. The range is comprised of a viewable field. A set of flotation rules is made in response to the tracking data that indicates the event that triggers. A flotation rule is a list that identifies the optimal location and orientation for every flotation. To allow the object to float, a set of flotation-related actions are activated. The flotation rules stipulate that the object’s position and position is altered.

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