Where We've Been

The Teleplace release is a mature application for getting work done in realtime collaboration with others. This makes a good occasion to look at some direct progenitors. The first two are the 1994 Interactive Collaboration Environment prototype by David Smith. The third is a 2007 Julian Lombardi demo of Croquet.

About Stearns

Howard Stearns works at High Fidelity, Inc., creating the metaverse. Mr. Stearns has a quarter century experience in systems engineering, applications consulting, and management of advanced software technologies. He was the technical lead of University of Wisconsin's Croquet project, an ambitious project convened by computing pioneer Alan Kay to transform collaboration through 3D graphics and real-time, persistent shared spaces. The CAD integration products Mr. Stearns created for expert system pioneer ICAD set the market standard through IPO and acquisition by Oracle. The embedded systems he wrote helped transform the industrial diamond market. In the early 2000s, Mr. Stearns was named Technology Strategist for Curl, the only startup founded by WWW pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. An expert on programming languages and operating systems, Mr. Stearns created the Eclipse commercial Common Lisp programming implementation. Mr. Stearns has two degrees from M.I.T., and has directed family businesses in early childhood education and publishing.


  1. Dude,
    Our company signed up for teleplace, which looks pretty cool, but we’re thinking there must be a way to modify the avatars. The chiclet avatar can have a person’s face put on it, but not the animated avatar.
    I’m guessing for security the avatar descriptions are kept on the servers (and I don’t intend to jeopardize my job by hacking into the server for a cooler avatar) but if there is a reasonable way to change this, I’d be interested.

  2. There are several ways to modify your avatar, depending on what you want to achieve and what you want to put into it.

    The easiest thing (as I gather you’ve discovered) is to use Tools->My Avatar->Family to pick Simple Shape, Balloon, or Animated Character. (People sometimes refer to Simple Shape as Chicklets Man or Lego Man.) There are then different options for each: The first lets you pick a face picture and a badge picture, and the latter lets you pick from (currently 16) stock animated avatars. You can also pick color for the Simple or Balloon.

    If you’re an artist, you can create an animated avatar in some other system such as 3DS Max, Maya, Blender, etc. The industry hasn’t really standardized avatar definitions very much yet. While we can import a lot of different formats, the catch is that we expect a skeleton topography that can be mapped into one of the more common arrangements. After an appropriate figure is imported (by dragging it from your computer desktop into Teleplace), you click on it and select “Take as My Avatar”. It then gets permanently added as an additional (e.g., 17th) choice. You can do this as much as you want to have more to choose from at any time. Contact support@teleplace.com to get details on bone topology and importing.

    We offer a custom face service, where you send support an evenly lit face photo and the program generates your head and skin tone on one of the standard animated avatars. We also have a shop that will hand-create figures to your specs. Both of these are through third-parties, and you end up with an externally-defined figure that you import just as above. (E.g., it becomes and additional choice after you Take it.)

    If you have one of these importable external figures (created by you or by us), it is also pretty easy to photoshop some changes to the textures and filenames, and import it again as an additional choice.

    If any of these sounds like the ticket, contact support. If none of these are what you are looking for, contact support!

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