Rumors of Google working on a new virtual world to rival Second Life are running rampant. The company is believed to be collaborating with Arizona State University to test their new 3D social network for launch later this year. For now ASU is running a prototype program allowing students to get an early glimpse of what seems to be a 3D-world filled with avatars. The new “world” may be somehow integrated into Google's current applications of Google Earth and Google Maps.
Virtual technology is growing at an incredible pace. Japanese firm NTT recently unveiled a system that enables you to feel "the shape and softness" of three-dimensional images using a sensor-loaded glove. VR buffs who have been “feeling it” all along, will soon literally be able to feel their virtual worlds.
The new invention uses a "tangible 3D" system to create graphics that seem to burst out of a screen and has a glove that allows users to touch them.
Millions of people are enjoying their alternate virtual lives, primarily for its social and entertainment value. Ron Burns, president of Proton Media, which operates virtual worlds for remote learning, points out that there are practical benefits, as well.
For example, the business value of training in virtual worlds is faster and more effective than in other channels. Pilots and surgeons, for example, have long relied on simulations that allow them to attempt new things. Virtual reality provides them with the opportunity to learn in an environment where the outcome isn’t life or death.
The world’s very first 4D Virtual Reality Human has been dubbed the “CAVEman” and resides in the CAVE, a cube-shaped virtual reality room, also known as the “research Holodeck”. The 4D human model floats in space, projected from three walls and the floor below.
Second Life creator, Linden Labs CEO Phillip Rosedale said during a keynote speech at a tech conference this week that he hopes to see voice officially launched in Second Life within the next several months.
"There are a lot of problems with telephony when doing conference calls. You can't tell who's talking if there's more than one person. But in the virtual world, voice solves it," said Rosedale, noting that avatars with three-dimensional voice integration will likely accelerate using Second Life for holding virtual conference meetings.
Other plans in the works for Second Life include adding the ability to scan users' photos onto their avatars and bringing more realism into the virtual world through detail-oriented design.
In the opening scene of an episode of the TV show "Star Trek" almost a decade and a half ago Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein discussed the nature of the universe. In 3001 -A Space Odessey, astronaut David Poole returns to the Earth of his childhood presented as a virtual world.
A new research project between the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Central Florida in Orlando may soon make such imaginary conversations a reality, where their 3-D, life-sized representations looked you in the eye, examined your body language, considered voice nuances and phraseology of your questions, then answered you in a way that is so real you would swear the images were alive. This enhanced virtual reality world will use artificial intelligence with technology from computer games, animation and artificial intelligence.
Second Life is a popular online virtual world with millions of registered users and its own economy and currency, known as the Linden dollar, which can be exchanged for real US dollars. Ginsu Yoon, Linden Lab's vice president for business affairs, has said the company is seeking guidance on virtual gambling activity in Second Life but had not yet received clear rules from US authorities. FBI investigators are visiting Second Life's internet casinos at the, although the US government has not yet decided on the legality of virtual gambling.
In the same way that Intel's Pentium ("Intel Inside") processor fueled the adoption of Windows and the Web, IBM's revolutionary Cell processor chip in hundreds of millions of households around the world via game console systems and consumer devices and accelerating broadband speeds will fuel rapid emergence of 3-D virtual-reality platforms. The IBM Cell Broadband Engine is a complex high-performance architecture that processes millions of pieces of information per second to deliver highly detailed graphics.
Virtual worlds such as Second Life will have life-like real-time graphics rendering produced from digital cameras (currently at 10 pixels) that will allow for the display of facial expressions and body language that will result in virtual-world haptic (emotional) experiences.
As John Patrick led IBM into the Internet Era in the 90's, the tech giant is positioning itself at the head of the pack to ride the next great wave. Web 2.0 guru and tech publisher Tim O'Reilly points out in his Radar blog that IBM along with Reuters, Nissan, Nike, NASA and other Fortune 500's are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in a Second Life presence on the bet that virtual reality of the future will be a much richer and more immersive experience than today's environments.
From the Reuter's Second-Life News Center: Europeans now make up the largest block of residents of the 3-D virtual world, Second Life, with more than 54 percent of active users in January ahead of North America’s 34.5 percent, according to new Linden Lab data.
U.S. residents made up only 31.2 percent of active Second Life users in the month. France has the second-highest number of users after the virtual world became a battleground for the country’s presidential election.
Although French residents had long been a part of Second Life, thousands more joined Second Life in January as demonstrators picketed the virtual offices of Jean Marie Le Pen’s far-right National Front party. Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal also established a Second Life presence.