Wiggle Planet in the News: “Petaluma startup’s educational app plays with reality”

Petaluma’s primary newspaper, the Petaluma Argus Courier, just ran a great piece about Wiggle Planet.

Wiggle Planet has developed a software platform that allows for the creation of emotionally intelligent animated characters that can inhabit the world around us through geolocation-based augmented reality.

Wiggle Planet has developed a software platform that allows for the creation of emotionally intelligent animated characters that can inhabit the world around us through geolocation-based augmented reality.

“Petaluma startup’s educational app plays with reality”

What if you could open a book and have the characters spring to life from the pages to play and interact with? It sounds like fantasy, but the creative minds at Petaluma-based Wiggle Planet, are making it reality — an “augmented reality” that has the potential to disrupt the educational and entertainment industries.

Founded by Jeffrey Ventrella in 2012, Wiggle Planet has developed a software platform that allows for the creation of emotionally intelligent animated characters that can inhabit the world around us through geolocation-based augmented reality. Differing from virtual reality, augmented reality is a layer of the digital world on top of the real world. Augmented reality incorporates the real world as opposed to virtual reality that is designed to escape it.

It sounds complex, but for the average person it’s simple. The user downloads a Wiggle Planet app and through it is able to see and interact with a unique variety of animated characters called Wiglets that are “artificially alive.” Through the software they’ve developed, the Wiglets incorporate artificial intelligence, virtual physics and genetic inheritance, which make them completely different from the characters in video games.

“They are dynamic characters that can be used in particular for storytelling,” said John Lester, lead technology evangelist for Wiggle Planet. “They are not pre-programmed or scripted agents. They are artificially alive. They have dynamic, evolving behaviors. And the best way to summarize it is this: it’s augmented reality plus artificial life as an overlay on the physical world.”

Check out the full article for lots of great information!

Peck Peck, an animated character created by Wiggle Planet, stands outside the Petaluma Historical Library & Museum.

Peck Peck, an animated character created by Wiggle Planet, stands outside the Petaluma Historical Library & Museum.

-John “Pathfinder” Lester
Lead Technology Evangelist, Wiggle Planet

Authentic Animal Conversation #7: “Walnut Hose”

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Unity Asset Store

It’s important for people to identify their own talents and cultivate them whenever possible.

And likewise, it’s important for people to realize where they lack talent.

Personally, I’m terrible at 3d content creation.

I’ve tried very hard to learn various 3d modeling programs in the past, and I continue to push myself at doing my best to use them.  But I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that, aside from being able to whip up the basics, I definitely lack the artistic talent and technical prowess to create beautifully detailed 3d models from scratch.  I’ll always be a hack.

But that’s OK.  I’ve stopped worrying about it.

Because the trick is to accept one’s limitations while finding ways to work around them.

My Best Friend in Jibe: The Unity3d Asset Store

I’ve recently been learning how to use Unity3d to create my own multiuser virtual world on the web with Jibe.  And I just started using the Unity Asset Store.

The Unity Asset Store is a place to buy things you can import and use in your own Unity3d projects.  Anyone can submit items to be sold, too.

Pretty neat, right?  Well, it gets much more interesting.

The clever folks at Unity decided to integrate the Asset Store with the Unity editor.

Hello, my friend!

So while you’re busily working on your world in the editor, you can simply pull up the Asset Store from the menu, search for something, buy it, and have it immediately dropped into your project file.  And if you lose or break something you previously bought, have no fear.  The Asset Store remembers that you bought it and can send it to you again whenever you like.

Of course, anyone can find 3d models for sale or freely available on many different websites.  I do that all the time, and it works great.  But it can sometimes get complicated depending on different import settings and optimizations.  With the Unity Asset Store, I’m guaranteed everything will work in Unity3d.  And the store is right there for me to access while I’m actively building my world, at the precise moment I need new content.

“Hmm.  I need wildlife in my Jibe world.  Like rabbits.”

“Oh look, there’s one in the Asset Store.”


I get excited about technology.  But I get even more excited when I find tools that have a very positive philosophy behind them.  The Unity Asset Store is a great example of how the folks at Unity are thinking very carefully about how to best empower people who want to create engaging 3d experiences.  Connect, integrate, and build communities where everyone can best leverage their unique talents.  That’s a great philosophy in my book.

Jibe + Unity3d = Sharing your World

At ReactionGrid, we like to think we too have a very positive philosophy.  We give people the tools to create and then share their virtual worlds with others.  Being able to easily publish your vision on the web is pretty amazing, and I’m having a great time putting myself in our customers’ shoes.  Learning by doing.

Visit my Jibe world and see if you can find my fully rigged and animated mesh models of rabbits, courtesy of the Unity Asset Store.  I’ll be using them and other animal models to tell a little story over time for folks exploring my Jibe world.

Creating fun and immersive learning experiences through storytelling is something I can do pretty well.  Thankfully, I don’t need to be a 3d model expert to create engaging  experiences in Jibe.

And guess what?  Neither do you.

Join our Jibe and Unity3d Discussion Group and learn how easy it is to get started!

Authentic Animal Conversation #6: “Dibs”

“I can’t believe he’s actually doing it.”


“Shut up!  They’re going to hear us!”

“Just stay in the grass and be quiet, you morons.”

“I can’t see.  What’s he doing?  Did he make it to the table?

“This is insane.  I told you not to dare him.  This is stupid, stupid, stupid.”

“He’s a grown squirrel and can make his own decisions.”


“Oh for crying out loud, do you want to get him killed?”

“If Ricky doesn’t make it back, I call dibs on his nest.”


“Dibs! Dibs!”

“You guys suck, you know that?”

More Authentic Animal Conversations.

Authentic Animal Conversation #5: “A Cat of Action”

“This seems like a really bad idea.”

“I’m not listening.  Look at my face.  This is my ‘I’m not listening’ face.”

“I’m serious, Steve.  I have a really bad feeling about this.”

“You’d rather be sitting in the snow?  I swear, all you do is complain and–”

“But Steve, I just mean–”

“‘Boohoo, my paws are frozen!  I can’t feel my toes!  Steve, help me I’m so cold!’  Your exact words just 10 freaking minutes ago, Ralph.  Am I right?”

“I know, but–”

“And I dealt with the situation, didn’t I?  I found a solution, right?  I took action.”

“I know you did, Steve.  It’s just–”

“I am a cat of action.  What have you done today besides complaining?  Anything, Ralph?”

“OK.  It’s just, well…  You realize we’re sitting on a dog, right?”

“It’s called a ‘calculated risk.’  Look it up.”

“Like that time you decided we should try sitting on the sleeping wolverine last winter?  Was that a ‘calculated risk?’  Because I still have calculated bite marks on my you-know-where from that swell idea.”

“If you don’t shut up, I’m going to give you a calculated slap in the face.”


More Authentic Animal Conversations.

Authentic Animal Conversation #4: “Starbro”

“Fred, where the hell is the ocean?”

“I have no idea.”

“And what are we sitting on?  This is definitely NOT the beach.”

“Just calm-“

“Dude, I’m freaking out!”

“Steve, calm down.  We’ll get through this.”

“Can you hold my hand?”

“You got it, starbro.”


More Authentic Animal Conversations.

Authentic Animal Conversation #3: “Biscuit”

“This is nice.”


“Is that a biscuit on the floor over there?”

“Stop looking at it.  You’re not going anywhere.  I need your body heat right here, right now.”

“I swear it’s a biscuit.”

“It’s an inedible chewed rubber bone that you nevertheless tried to eat yesterday.  Focus on being in the blanket.”

“I don’t remember…”

“Focus. On. The. Blanket.”

“Ok, ok…”

More Authentic Animal Conversations.

Introducing Authentic Animal Conversations

I’ve been getting into creative writing lately.

When I was in high school, I used to write a lot.  Mostly short stories.  I really enjoyed it, and apparently I was pretty good at it too.  As a junior in high school I won a Brown University Book Award for my “academic excellence combined with clarity in written and spoken expression.”

I’ve always remembered that nice formal affirmation.  Despite the fact that I never ended up going to Brown.  And that I spent most of my academic focus in high school playing D&D.

But such an affirmation doesn’t mean anything if you don’t actually continue to write. Continue reading