Within the "Global Lab" NII Grand Challenge project, we are exploring the 3D Internet as a new platform for advanced scientific communication, real-time collaboration, and social simulation. The 3D Internet refers to networked (cyber) multi-user three-dimensional (3D) virtual worlds, where users are represented as "avatars" (graphical self-representations of users) that can communicate and navigate in world-like environments in a somewhat realistic manner. The goal of our project is to transform the 3D Internet from a social communication space into a high-performance experimental space (Xspace) for collecting useful behavioral data from human participants at super-large scale. Social simulations conducted in the experimental space have the potential to solve important societal problems that are too risky to be studied in the real world, such as traffic incidents, disaster evacuation, or biosafety.
The core mission of our project is the establishment of deep collaborations with partners from non-informatics fields, who want to use our social simulation technology as an innovative data collection method to improve their theories and models. For that purpose, we host Xspace as a cloud service in Asia-Pacific, USA, and Europe, and started to promote our applications on social networking services, such as Facebook. Traffic engineers use our technology to investigate the origin of traffic congestion, to devise driver assistance systems for green driving, and to develop more effective ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) applications. Our partners from the disaster evacuation field run social simulations to create and calibrate their mathematical "escape" models. Besides simulation, our technology is also used for training eco-driving and biosafety incidence response.