Frequently Asked Questions
1. How long does it take to learn to use ProtoSphere?
About 15 minutes for the average user. If you will be leading meetings in ProtoSphere, you should learn the more advanced “moderator” functions. Allow an hour for that, including some practice.
2. Do I need to be shown how to use it?
There is an easy-to-follow user guide, but it is a better experience when someone who already knows ProtoSphere meets you in the virtual world and shows it to you. We usually do that as ‘meet and greet’ sessions.
3. How many people can use it at the same time?
Up to 75 can be in the same room at any one time. If you have a basic graphic card in your computer, you might not be able to see everyone, but it will still work. The total number of concurrent users that can be in ProtoSphere depends on the licensing agreement.
4. Do I need a powerful 'gaming' computer to use ProtoSphere?
No. Any reasonably up-to-date Windows computer is sufficient. SEE PREREQUISITES
5. Does ProtoSphere use a lot of bandwidth?
No. ProtoSphere is very clever in this respect. The graphics are downloaded onto your computer the first time you go into a space. The only information relating to the visuals that goes back and forward between your computer and the server are coordinates. Obviously, if want to be able to watch videos inside ProtoSphere, your connection needs to be sufficient to stream video but otherwise the bandwidth requirements are relatively low.
6. How secure is ProtoSphere?
ProtoSphere utilises government-grade Advanced Encryption Standard (AES 256-bit) for security of communications. User authentication, single sign on and access control privileges are via Microsoft Active Directory/LDAP. There are many ways to control who gets access to what space and to which facilities.
7. Who controls the security and sets up new users?
We set up all users and their access according to your requirements. If you are a "moderator" there will be some things you can control yourself such as 'locking' your room and who can update media board content.
8. What is involved in creating new rooms and other content?
We either create the 3D models from scratch, often working from photographs, or adapt existing 3D models if they are available. To avoid the need for powerful gaming computers, we keep the 3D objects to an optimal size for quality and performance.
9. Can the rooms be changed?
Yes, but it is worth considering what might need to be changed when the room is first designed and built. To save time and cost at a later date, we try to identify objects that may need to change, such as exhibition items, and keep those separate from the main fabric of the room.
10. How quickly can rooms be changed?
This depends on the nature of the change. Moving a 3D object within a room or replacing it with another object that already exists can usually be done quickly. Similarly, it doesn’t take very long to add and remove chairs, tables and notice boards. The time it takes to create new rooms and 3D objects very much depends on the complexity.
11. Can existing rooms and 3D objects be copied?
Yes we can make copies. There is a certain amount of work that needs to be done to configure a room and the security associated with it, but it can usually be done at relatively short notice.
12. Who provides the technical support?
We provide the technical support ourselves, in partnership with ProtonMedia, the providers of ProtoSphere. The service is currently hosted by ProtonMedia in Philadelphia and they take care of backup and maintenance of the system. We work closely together to manage the roll-out of new releases.
13. Why not use Second Life?
Second Life is a free avatar-based 3D Virtual World that is open to anybody to use. It requires a computer with a ‘gaming’ level of performance and a lot of internet bandwidth to cope with the streamed graphics. According to Wikipedia, “Issues range from technical to moral (pornography). Security issues have also been a concern”.
14. Why not watch a video or look at items on a web site?
You still can! Videos and web sites have their place where there is no need to interact with others. The difference here is about being able to share the experience with others. Talking with a guide and being able to ask questions of a world class expert, being able to discuss what you are looking at with fellow students or just having a chat about the weather, all help to make the Virtual Museum a highly engaging experience.
15. Can we use ProtoSphere to collaborate with other museums and organisations?
Definitely! That’s exactly the sort of thing that it is designed for. In time, you will be able to directly engage with universities, businesses, governments, etc., all around the world. Remember the early days of email, the internet, Facebook or the iPhone? That’s where we are with this technology. It is still evolving, but don’t hang around, the future is just around the corner.