Second Life To Get 3D Voice Capability

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Linden Lab, creators of the Second Life online world, announced plans to enable residents to voice chat with one another in real time. This initiative is geared toward improving the collaborative efforts of educators, non-profits, and businesses that run their operations within the virtual environment.

To invoke a recurring motif from the Star Wars saga…

“I have a bad feeling about this.”

The ability to voice chat will no doubt be helpful to legitimate companies and organizations that have chosen to make Second Life their home for collaborative networking and operations.

“Many of the projects my students and I are working on in Second Life will benefit from voice, as we often work with our hands, designing, building and creating,” said Terry Beaubois, AIA, Professor of Architecture and Director of the College of Arts & Architecture’s Creative Research Lab at Montana State University.

“Voice will enable us to communicate and collaborate freely, and I’m looking forward to exploring its use.”

The flip side, however, lies in how the technology will be implemented throughout the shadier parts of the virtual world. Can Linden Lab honestly expect that the power voice chat capability will be used for good and not for evil? Let’s face it; this kind of technology makes the virtual sex industry within Second Life instantly much more profitable.

With that being said, here are some of the particulars surrounding the voice chat features planned for Second Life:

· Voice will be enabled throughout Second Life, and will be available to all Residents.

· To use the voice option, Residents must have a computer headset connected to their PC or Mac. Residents simply log into the Second Life Grid and can automatically start speaking to others on voice-enabled land.

· Mainland ‘parcel’ landowners can choose to disable the voice option on their land at their own discretion.

· Private island owners will have the option to enable voice on their own land, dependent on the terms of their subscription.

· There will be several usage scenarios available in terms of group and private one-to-one conversations:

Scenario 1 – Residents can teleport to voice-enabled land, and automatically start speaking, with the volume of speech modified according to their spatial relationship with others. Up to 100 users can be present in the same audio channel at once.

I like to call this the “complete and utter chaos” scenario.

Scenario 2 – Group conference calls for two or more Residents. This enables Residents to communicate with large groups across geographical boundaries (e.g. concert setting, or between pockets of land etc).

This is the scenario that seems to offer the most tangible benefit.

Scenario 3 - One-to-one personal communication. This enables Residents to privately share a conversation, which can be initiated by an Instant Message. Residents don’t have to be on voice-enabled land to do this.

This, obviously, is the “fantasy” scenario that will please those residents who shell out their Linden dollars for discreet encounters in the back alley, just around the corner from the unofficial virtual campaign headquarters for presidential hopeful John Edwards.

“The addition of voice marks a natural progression in the ongoing evolution of Second Life,” said Joe Miller, Vice President, Platform & Technology Development at Linden Lab.

“We believe Voice is a transformative technology that will change the way Residents communicate, and will lend more immediacy and dynamism to their interaction with others. For example, academic institutions could use the voice feature of Second Life to carry out lectures, corporations could use it for customer training and friends can simply catch up with each other.”

“Voice has always been part of the long-term plan for the Second Life Grid, as we feel it will help Residents become more immersed in their virtual lives,” said Philip Rosedale, CEO at Linden Lab.

“Our approach is to give Residents the tools to create their own unique experience, and we’re hoping that many of them will develop new ways to use voice which will ultimately enrich the collective evolution of Second Life.”

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Second Life To Get 3D Voice Capability
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