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What is Nerves?

Nerves is a technology that allows you to bundle the power of neural networks into a small package and embed it within an existing application. Nerves was designed to track millions of documents flowing over networks and into archives. Nerves has been applied experimentally to model nanometer scale manufacturing systems, simulating the flow of molecules through a tiny purification filter.

The unique capability of Nerves is the ability to simulate the flow of a large number of objects at high speed and with minimum CPU and memory requirements.

Nerves is now being adapted to serve a special need in the VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) standard. If accepted into VRML at level 2.0 or higher, Nerves will bring sophisticated behavior to multi-user virtual worlds on the Internet. We believe that Nerves will be instrumental in making the following possible:

    Articulated avatars with a wide range of gestures
    Facial expression for avatars
    Autonomous Bots and Agents
    Digital biota including synthetic organisms
    Whole environment characteristics such as simulated weather
    Wiring for sophisticated control panels on in-world objects
    Enhanced artistic expression in virtual spaces
Complex actions, such as the swimming of a virtual fish, would require so many events and steps that serving all this behavior over the network would be prohibitive. Nerves will reduce the behavior bandwidth as this behavior can be embodied in a VRML object in the form of a Nerve Node. A Nerve Node would serve as a corellator and router of events between transform nodes, script nodes and the VRML enironment. See the Need for Nerves for a more complete treatment of where Nerves might fit into the existing Moving Worlds VRML proposal.

The key to the success of Nerves will come when it is embedded into client VRML browser applications. Java versions of Nerves proved too slow, both in network load time and interpreter execution time. Native execution of Nerves within VRML browsers is the best way to bring sophisticated and compelling behavior to VRML.

DigitalSpace Corporation contributing Nerves to the VRML community. The Nerves source code is a platform independent C++ class hierarchy which can be directly embedded into applications or libraries. DigitalSpace is looking forward to working with development partners to apply Nerves to a demonstration project, such as the swimming fish described here.

For the techically minded, please see the proposed Nerves metalanguage 1.0. A working example of NerveScript in the standalone Amoeba client application can be found in Running Sample AmoebaScript. .

If you want to simulate biology you must emulate biology

If you have input, comments or would like to join the Nerves effort please do not hesitate to email us at: or reach us directly at DigitalSpace Corporation, 343 Soquel Avenue, Suite 70, Santa Cruz California 95062 USA 1-(408) 338-9400.

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