K360 – a 360-degree image viewer

The K360 Image Viewer, courtesy of Yuzuru Jewell / Kanae Project

Yuzuru Jewell is a long-time Second Life user who has, over the years, come up with a number of tools that have been of assistance to SL users in various ways. I first became aware of his work – provided under the Kanae Project banner in 2012, and have documented a number of his applications in these pages.

For his latest product, Yuzuru offers a handy tool that may be appreciated by those who enjoy creating 360º photographs. K360 is a lightweight viewer that supports viewing (or previewing) 360º photographs primarily taken with the Second Life 360º Snapshot viewer, although it works equally well with any composed 360º image, including those produced by 360º cameras and – in the case of Second Life – via third-party HUD systems (see the links at the end of this article for more on these).

Of course, most photo platforms now provide 360º image viewing support, so why use a third-party tool like this? Well, there are a couple of potential reasons: many viewers are either mobile based, and thus hardly ideal for use with a desktop application like SL), or they rely on images being uploaded to a website first. K360 allows you to quickly and easily view 360º images directly from any Windows folder on your computer and offers some additional functionality as well.

A 360 image produced in 2016 using the Illiastra Camera HUD, viewed using K360

Of course, the Snapshot viewer includes photo preview capability already built-in (just drag the window out to get a equirectangular style image) – but this only allows you to preview the last 360º image captured. The advantage of a tool like K360 is that you can set the camera up and take a series of 360º images of the same location but under different environment settings, compare and contrast them to see which you particularly like, and then upload that version to your preferred photo sharing platform  (or simply browse them on from your local drive).

Using K360 is simplicity itself, as described below. However, when using it, please note:

  • By default, images rendered in the K360 viewer will be watermarked (but all other functions in the application work).
  • To remove this watermark, the application will require a registration user name and licence number.
  • Licences cost L$3980 and can be purchased from the Kanae Project in-world store.

Download and Installation

  • Download the viewer from the Kanae Project website as a .ZIP file. It’s is available in both Windows 32-bit and Windows 64-bit versions.
  • Navigate to the downloaded .ZIP file and extract the contents to a folder / location of your choice on your computer.
  • Navigate to that folder, open it and double-click on the K360.exe file to launch the viewer.

Using K360

Resizing the Application Window

By default,the K360 application window may open to a fairly small size on your screen. To adjust this, either:

  • Click the window maximise button, top right, or
  • Manually resize the window by dragging out the edges.

The Interface and Controls

The K360 interface comprises up to six buttons:

Register – click to open the project registration field to enter your user name and your purchased licence number, as obtained via your purchased registration HUD. Once conformed as valid, this icon will no longer be displayed. Ensure you keep the registration HUD safe.
Select and open any folder containing 360º snapshots.
Page back / forth all suitable images in the selected folder.
Produce a snapshot of the current 360º image. Note that as the 360º image is spherical, this may result in a “curved” flat image.
Re-centre the current image after scrolling around it.

When you have opened a 360º image for viewing:

  • Click and hold the left mouse button to drag-rotate the image (or roll your trackball in the required direction.
  • Use the mouse wheel to zoom in / out of an image.
  • Use the Reset button to re-centre the image to how it appeared on first opening it after rotating / scrolling / zooming, if required.

You can also hide / unhide the the interface buttons by clicking on the “ribbon” containing the Open, Snapshot and Re-centre buttons.


K360 is probably a little ahead of its time. As it is there are further fixes required to the 360º snapshot viewer before it is ready for prime time imaging capability of the 360º Snapshot viewer (notably, objects outside of the camera’s field of viewer when the capture process commences don’t always show as correctly rendered in a completed shot  – these are known issues, and Linden Lab is working to correct them).

A 360 image using 360 Snapshot project viewer (version shown in the K360 app. Note the denuded tree is an example of the rendering issues that can occur with the Snapshot viewer at the time of writing (Interest List issues). Issue like this will hopefully be resolved in time, allowing the viewer to eventually progress to release status.

In this respect, the value you get out of K360 at this point in time could be variable – although if you want to give it a try and don’t mind the watermarks appearing across your images, it won’t cost you a penny to do so.

If you already have a selection of 360º images from the 360º snapshot viewer or from the various camera HUDs that are available – or indeed stored on your PC from the physical world – and would like a quick and easy way to view them on your computer, then K360 might well be worth a look.

Related Links

Idobata 2: talking Second Life and Skype

Idobata 2: offering text-to-speech conversion for SL (and Skype chat) users
Idobata 2: offering text-to-speech conversion for SL (and Skype chat) users

Update, March 3rd: Yuzuru has produced demo video for Idobata 2, and I’ve included it at the end of this article.

Update, January 28th: as noted below, Idobata 2 is now available from the Kanae Projects website.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been asked by Yuzuru Jewell to evaluate some of his software tools – a task I’m always delighted to perform as time allows, although in truth, I’ve fallen a little behind of late. This being the case, when Yuzuru first notified me that he was working on a new version of Idobata, his a text-to-speech conversion tool, I made a point to be ready to clear time to look at it when he was ready to allow me access.

Idobata was first launched in September 2013, when I originally reviewed it. As noted above, it is a text-to-speech conversion tool which currently works with the official Second Life viewer and both the 32 and 64-bit versions of Firestorm (and as a result can be used with SL and OpenSim).

When running, the original version – Idobata Pro –  would capture text typed into chat in the viewer in real-time, or view the chat look, and convert it into the spoken word. The new version, Idobata 2, still does that, but in addition it can also monitor all IM and group chat sessions, etc., and convert them to the spoken word. Further, Yuzuru has also added a capability for it to be used with Skype chats.

Idobata 2 is due to be launched on Tuesday, January 27th, so the following is intended to preview the new version, which will be available on the Kanae Projects website from approximately 13:00 SLT onwards on the 27th.

Unlike its predecessor, Idobata 2 will be provided free-of-charge, but will include banner adverts for other products in the Kanae Project range. Those who prefer not to have ads in their software can remove the banners by obtaining a user name and password from Yuzuru for a nominal donation of L$300 towards his running costs.

In order to use Idobata 2, you will need to download the ZIP file (when available) from Kanae Porjects (the application is provided in both 32- and 64-bit options), and you’ll also need to have the Microsoft Speech Platform 11 runtime, installed on your PC as well. If required, you can also download alternative / additional language and voice options for reading back text by downloading and installing the Microsoft Speech Platform Language Options.

Once you’ve download the runtime platform and installed it, unzip Idobata to a folder of your choice and double-click on the program icon to launch it. Those who have used Idobata Pro will immediately notice the first difference between it and the new product: Idobata 2 has a much smaller, tidier UI.

Idobata's main window showing the primary buttons and the default banner adverts for Yuzuru's other products
Idobata’s main window showing the primary buttons and the default banner adverts for Yuzuru’s other products

The main options for the application are displayed across the top of the window, together with an option to enter the users name and password to block the banner ads display at the bottom of the window. Between the options and banner area is a white space which will display the text currently being read back in voice – something that helps in situation where the spoken words many not be entirely clear (such as when abbreviations are being used, or technical terms, which may cause pronunciation problems for the application, etc.).

Idobata 2 Configuration

Before using Idobata 2 with Second Life, some basic configuration is required through the Tools button. Clicking this will open the 3-tab configuration window. The Chat Text tab is used to set the application for use with Second Life.

The Idobata 2 configuration options for Second Life
The Idobata 2 configuration options for Second Life

To have chat text converted directly to speech, all you need to do is:

  • Select your choice of viewer (the SL viewer and both the 32-bit or 64-bit versions of Firestorm are supported)
  • Select the name of the avatar account through which Idobata 2 is to monitor / convert text
  • Check the Watch All Chats option if you want Idobata 2 to monitor all open IMs and group chat sessions involving the nominated avatar account in addition to open chat
  • Slide the Watch button towards to the top right of the window to the right (the background to the slider will turn burn, indicating Idobata 2 is ready to go

And that’s it. Idobata 2 is ready to convert chat (and IM / group chat, if set) text into the spoken word. If you prefer, rather than monitoring open chat, you can set Idobata 2 to monitor a specific chat log file (and define the encoding using by the file, if required), allowing Idobata 2 to be used with viewers other than the SL or Firestorm viewers. In addition, a set of three radio buttons allow you to:

  • Precede and converted text with a timestamp
  • Use the Second Life log Format drop-downs to define:
    • Whether Idobata 2 converts all text (None), or, if you are using a translation function
    • Whether Idobata 2 converts the original text to chat or the translated text to chat
    • Whether the other avatars with whom you are conversing are defined by Idobata 2 by their Display Name or their Avatar Name
  • Use the Custom(RegEx) option to define regular expressions which will not be read back by Idobata 2.

Once you have set your preferences, click OK to return to the main window, If you wish to reset Idobata 2 to its defaults at any time, click the Default button in the configuration window – note this will reset all options – both Skype (if set) as well as those for Second Life.

Continue reading “Idobata 2: talking Second Life and Skype”

Somato: create textures and shadows for sculpts and mesh

Over the course of the past year or so, I’ve covered several of the Kanae Project applications developed by Yuzuru Jewell and aimed at the Second Life content creator. Innovative, and easy-to-use, the Kanae products are a suite of applications which can be used individually or side-by side (and in the case of the Tatara tool, contain several of the other apps).

On February 23rd 2014, Yuzuru released the latest version of Somato (4.58, available for Windows in 32-bit and 64-bit flavours, and Mac OSX), and dropped me a line about it.

Somato is an application which allows the user to take an image or picture and project it onto a 3D model (sculpted prim or Collada object), specify the direction and strength of light (ambient or diffuse), and add the model’s natural shadow to the texture. The finished texture can then be baked and saved, ready to be uploaded and applied to the shape in-world.

The somato user interface
The somato user interface

Details on the tool and its capabilities can be found on the Kanae Project website, where a simple tutorial demonstrates how to apply an image and shadows to a complex sculpted prim. The tool itself can be downloaded for free on a three-day trial basis. This provides full access to all of the application’s capabilities, except that of being able to save finished textures, and should be sufficient for users to familiarise themselves with the application’s features. A full licence for the application can be purchased in-world at the Kanae Project store (L$4,750 at the time of writing).

There are a couple of warnings which come with the product (which I’ve sadly not had time to really play with), and these are:

  • It is possible that a texture modelled within Somato may not display on a sculpted prim in SL in precisely the manner shown within the application
  • Due to an issue with AMD/ATI graphics drivers, Somato may not operate correctly on systems using these drivers. Potential purchasers are advised to use the trail period to check the application against their AMD/ATI graphics.

As well as the written tutorial, Yuzuru has produced two videos demonstrating how to use Somato. In the first he takes users through creating a texture to be used with a sculpted prim. In the second, he demonstrates adding shadow effects to the texture. I’ve included the second video here.

Both videos are also very good demonstrations of his Keshiki (Landscape) screen capture utility, which I looked at in September 2013.

Related Links

Keshiki: screen capture for tutorial makers and more

Yuzuru Jewell has been keeping himself busy. As well as releasing the Idobata text-to-speech application on Monday September 9th, which I was able to preview, he has also released a further application under the Kanae Projects brand.

Keshiki (景色 – meaning “landscape” or “scenery”) is a little different from his other products reviewed in these pages in that it isn’t aimed directly at virtual worlds – although it can easily be used with them. It’s a screen capture utility, and as such has a wide variety of potential uses, although Yuzuru specifically points to its potential in creating tutorials.

As I already use Easy Screen Capture, I was interested in taking Keshiki  for a test-drive and comparing the two.

Keshiki is available for both Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit as a ZIP download, containing  a readme file and the program executable. No installation is required; simply drop the EXE file in to the folder from which you want to use it.

Keshiki launches in a minimised mode (or did for me) – look for it on the taskbar

I’m running Windows 7, and double-clicking the program icon launched Keshiki in minimised mode, displaying a small icon on the taskbar. Clicking this opens the application’s Set-up window, while right-clicking on it provides quick access to a number of options (see below).

Set-up Options Run-through

Keshiki set-up window
Keshiki set-up window

The Set-up window allow you to define how you want Keshiki to work – which hot key will activate it, what will be captured, where the captured images will be saved, etc.

At the top of the window are a set of buttons:

  • Default – reset Keshiki to its default settings
  • Performance Option – access the Windows performance options to tune Keshiki
  • Create(/Delete) Start-up link – create or remove a link to start Keshiki at windows start-up
  • Cancel – quit out of any changes you have made to the set-up options (closing the window will do the same)
  • OK – confirm and update Keshiki’s settings

The Capture drop-down allows you to define what it is you which to capture:

  • Active Window – captures the active window
  • Active Client – captures the client area of the active window.
  • Desktop – captures the desktop area which contains the tool bar. If you use multiple monitors, the monitor in which the mouse pointer is ositioned will be captured
  • Work Area – captures your work area without the tool bar. Again, if you use multiple monitors, the monitor in which the mouse pointer is positioned will be captured
  • Pop-up menu – any displayed pop-up menu
  • Thumbnail on Taskbar – captures the taskbar thumbnail for an application.

Additionally, using the Options section, you can define what else Keshiki should capture – the mouse pointer, any visible tool tips, etc. Which of these options is available will depend on the type of capture you have set using the drop-down menu.

Other options within Set-up allow you to:

  • Specify a delay (in seconds) between the hotkey used to make a screen capture being pressed and the actual capture itself, allowing you to press other keys and optionally have them recorded in the image as well, using the Keyboard / System options. This is a very handy option if you’re producing a tutorial, as keystrokes can be recorded directly onto your screen captures in one of six pre-defined places (top left/centre/right; bottom left/centre/right)
  • Define the hotkey used to make a capture (Print Screen is the default)
  • The image format for captures (PNG – default; JPG or BMP)
  • Where images are saved to on capture  – you can use one of three default options, your desktop, Documents folder or My Pictures folder, or you can specify a folder on your system.
Keshiki can capture keystrokes for you for use in tutorials. Make sure you keep the required keys pressed until the timer countdown has ended.
Keshiki can capture keystrokes for you for use in tutorials. Make sure you keep the required keys pressed until the timer countdown has ended. Note that the position of the keys in the image can be adjusted within the six default placement areas using the Height and Margin options in the set-up window, and the colour of the keys changed using the Alpha option.

Pop-up Menu

The pop-up menu from the Taskbar icon
The pop-up menu from the Taskbar icon

Once you have set-up Keshiki, right-clicking on the program icon in the Windows taskbar displays a pop-up menu you can use to quickly toggle between capturing the active window or active client and activate / turn off any other options you’ve set (such as capturing keystrokes) without having to open the application set-up window.

Again, which of the options is available does depend on whether you have set them up through the main set-up window. The menu also includes an option to open the set-up window if you find you need to change any options.

Using Keshiki

You don’t need to have the application window open in order to use Keshiki. Once you’ve set your preferences, clicking OK will save them and minimise the application. To capture an image, simply press your defined hotkey. The image is automatically saved to your defined save location, and additional captures are automatically sequentially numbered. It’s as simple as that.


Keshiki is an extremely versatile screen capture tool with some nice touches. When compared to Easy Screen Capture ($29.95), Keshiki offers a broadly similar range of capture options with the exception of being able to capture a user-defined area of an application or window(s)., although it does offer the option of capturing keystrokes, which Easy Screen Capture hasn’t got, so it’s swings and roundabouts.

I did encounter problem trying to capture a taskbar thumbnail. I’m actually assuming that as such a capture is shown in the Keshiki documentation, the problem lies on this side of the keyboard, rather than in the application itself. Other than this, Keshiki did “exactly what it says on the tin”, as the saying goes.

The Set-up /application window makes it easy to change things on the fly without having to select menus, pull-up dialogues, etc., making Kehiki very user-friendly. The one thing I would possibly suggest adding would be some kind of feedback mechanism to indicate a capture has been successful – a sound would do. As images are grabbed and automatically saved, there is otherwise no indication that a capture has been successful, which might cause confusion / instil a need to constantly check that the last capture did work.

Overall, a handy tool if you’re looking for a free a screen capture utility with a good degree of flexibility (just remember the donate options on Yuzuru’s website if you do find Keshiki to your liking :).

Keshiki can be downloaded from the Kanae projects website – links below.

Related Links

Idobata: talking Second Life

During my time blogging, I’ve had the good fortune to be able to review various tools developed by Yuzuru Jewell for use with Second Life, notably Rokuro and Tatara, both produced under his Kanae Projects brand, and aimed at supporting content creation.

Yuzuru recently informed me he was working on a new tool, which represents something of a departure from his other apps – a text-to-speech conversion tool which allows chat entered into  Second Life (in open chat) to be converted to speech and listened to via headphones / speakers. The tools is now almost ready for release, and Yuzuru kindly allowed me to have preview access to a beta version of the application and take it for a test drive.

The app, Idobata Pro, will be available for both Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit as a ZIP download, containing  a Readme file and the program executable. No installation is required; simply drop the EXE file in the folder from which you want to use it & create a shortcut as required. However, it does require Microsoft Speech Platform 11 is installed on the PC.

Idobata: text chat-to-speech
Idobata: text chat-to-speech

Once “installed”, simply double-click on the EXE / shortcut to launch Idobata.

Options and Set-up

The application runs in a single window, no tabs or anything to fiddle with, and set-up is a simple matter of using the presented options.


  • START/STOP – starts / stops the text-to-speech conversion. Note that settings cannot be altered when conversion is active
  • Interval – set the delay between text chat and voice conversion
  • DEFAULTS – reset Idobata to its defaults.


Comprises three options:

  • Voice: allows you to select a voice option the application will use for speaking the chat it obtains. The default for this is Microsoft Anna US English
  • Volume: volume of the voice playback
  • Rate: the speed at which chat is spoken. Positive numbers mean faster playback, negative numbers means a slower playback.

Chat File

Select whether you wish to have chat converted directly from the viewer (requires you select the viewer and avatar) or from the chat file (requires you provide the chat file location). Currently, only Firestorm and Second Life are recognised by Idobata, so if you’re using another viewer, try using the convert from chat text file option.

Chat Mask

Allows you to define a chat mask:

  • Secondlife chat – the app will only read back an avatar’s Display Name (if set within SL)
  • [YYYY/MM/DD hh:mm] – the application will not precede chat with timestamps
  • Custom(RegEx) –  allows you to set regular expressions which will not be read back by Idobata
  • Speak translated chat – if you use translator within SL, Idobata will only read back the translated text, not the original language text.

Using Idobata

Click the START button to use the application. You’ll get a brief thank you message, which you can use to adjust the rate of playback, if required (click STOP to adjust the settings).

That’s it!

In Use and Feedback

Idobata works well, although the voice can take a little getting used to – adjust the Rate option in settings if you have problems understand what is being said.

The app potentially has a lot of uses, particularly if you’re engaged in something and don’t keep track of button flashes in CHUI or things like console messages , chiclets, etc., or indeed, if you’re off doing other things. For example, I spend a fair amount of time logged-in to SL but working on other windows, and so have the viewer minimised a lot. Idobata has already proven worthwhile for me as it allows me to hear who comes on-line, so I can flick back to the viewer if someone I need to IM comes in-world without my having to constantly flick back and forth with the viewer.

There are a couple of minor irritants – neither of which are Yuzuru’s fault per se. One is that Idobata has no way of determining the origins of what is being entered into chat – it simply converts everything in  the channel. This means that in places where there are a lot of spammy objects, it can get a little annoying (I was at a region where a greeter bellows out every single new arrival and how far away from it they arrive; that got particularly old very quickly, both with the announcement appearing in chat and Idobata reading it back). The other is the US Microsoft Anna voice – but that’s purely personal!

Idobata will be available from Monday September 9th via Yuzuru’s Kanae Projects website. The app can be used in a trail version for three days on a “try before your buy” basis, and licences for the full product will be available for L$1250 through Yuzuru’s in-world store.

Related Links

Tatara: a furnace for creating sculpts and mesh

In real life a tatara, or 鑪, is a traditional Japanese furnace for smelting iron and steel. In Second Life, Tatara, xreated ny Yuzuru Jewell under his Kanae Projects brand name, is a suite of tools which can be used to create sculpt maps and mesh collada files ready for upload to SL, and which includes both texture and bitmap editing capabilities as well.

Tatara combines a number of tools in order to manage this. The tools can be used individually or collectively, depending on the complexity of the object being created, and have a range of menu-driven options to further enhance their capabilities. The tools themselves are:

  • Tsuchi – allows an object to be displayed in orthographic projection from three directions, allowing to be edited and refined
  • Rokuro (lathe) – which I looked at in November 2012, which can be used to create basic shapes and forms for export as sculpt maps / meshes
  • Tokoroten (“extruder”) – which allows shapes or parts of shapes to be stretched, twisted, etc.
  • Mage – which can create more organic shapes and pipes and tubes, etc.
  • Wappa – which can be used for detailed editing of a section of a shape created using Mage
  • A bitmap editor and a texture / drawing tool.

Once a desired shape has been created, it can be saved / exported from Tatara as a sculpt map (.TGA format) or as a mesh .DAE file, each of which can be uploaded to Second Life, and file formats such as .OBJ and .XML are also supported. There are a number of sample shapes provided within the suite to help people get started, and files produced via other means can also be opened in Tatara and previewed / edited. When loading files produced elsewhere, Tatara automatically disables any tools which cannot be used in editing the loaded shape (so you may find, for example, that loading a sculpt map will disable the Rokuro and Tokoroten tools).

Using the Mage option in Tatara to create a teapot using an uploaded image as a guide
Using the Mage option in Tatara to create a teapot using an uploaded image as a guide

Tatara can be downloaded free-of-charge in a trial mode which will remain functional for three days. This allows access to all the features in the suite, other than saving / exporting creations. For this, a licence option must be purchased via Yuzuru’s in-world store. In addition, Tatara includes four optional plug-ins:

  • Cam and gear plug-ins for the creation of either cams or gears, which must be downloaded separately
  • Polyhedron plug-in which allows you to choose ten or more kinds of polyhedrons
  • Stair plug-in which allows the creation of four different types of stair, each with a user-definable number of steps.

Each of the four plug-ins also requires the purchase of a user licence to fully unlock them.


Tatara is available in three versions: Windows 32 and 64-bit versions and a Mac OSX version. There is no installer per se – the necessary files are provided in a ZIP file, which simply requires downloading and then unpacking to the desired folder.

Once unpacked and launched, Tatara will start-up and display a prompt for your user name and password. If no licence has been purchased, clicking cancel will allow access to the application in the trail mode.

A mesh shape: left - created using Tatara (Tsuchi); bottom - the saved DAE file being uploaded to SL; right - the finished shape with texturing applied (images courtesy of Yuzuru Jewell)
A mesh shape: left – created using Tatara (Tsuchi); bottom – the saved DAE file being uploaded to SL; right – the finished shape with texturing applied (images courtesy of Yuzuru Jewell)


The UI itself comprises two parts: on the left, a preview pane which displays a representation of your model, which can be drag-rotated in all three axes to examine the design; on the right a series of tabs accessing the various tool options, together with a set of menus and options – some of which may be tool-dependent.

Getting to grips with Tatara is a little complex, but Yuzuru provides a solid user guide on the Tatara page of his website and a range of tutorials on his blog. Even so, it is fair to say the tools do require a good understanding of modelling and projection, and achieving a desired goal can take time if you’re not used to using creation / editing tools of this type. Nevertheless, the results can be very worthwhile, and for those wishing to add to their armoury of content-creation tools, whether looking to make sculpts or basic mesh, Tatara and Yuzuru’s other tools are well worth a look.

Designing a a ceiling light frame using Tsuchi and, inset, trhe finished, textured piece about to be installed (click to enlarge)
Designing a ceiling light frame with the aid of Tsuchi and, inset, the finished, textured piece about to be installed (click to enlarge)

The full range of tools provided by Yuzuru comprise:

  • Rokuro – reviewed in this blog in November 2012
  • Rokuro_Pro – a version of Rokuro which includes a texturing capability and a series of plug-in tools
  • Tokoroten (“extruder”) – creates extruded forms of sculpted prim
  • Tatara – an advanced sculpted prim editor which includes functionality from Rokuro and Tokroten and well as three additional modes, which can be used individually or collectively to create sculpt maps
  • Shibori (“iris” – as in camera eye) – a “shrinkwrapper” for shrinking a sculpt around a given shape
  • Nomi (“chisel”) – creates a sculpted prim or mesh with a relief surface from one picture using the picture’s brightness
  • Hanko (“seal”) – a tool which allows you to add your signature to a sculpt map.

Related Links