Google embarks on a second life

The concept of alternative reality worlds has been given a significant shot in the virtual arm by the news that Google is entering the field. The Search engine firm announced on Tuesday that it was launching Lively as a beta service through its Google Labs project.

Google has a different twist in that users don’t enter the alternative world through a special (and separate) graphical client. Instead, the Lively service operates through the browser and allows you to create a vast collection of different meeting places, or ‘rooms’, that are embedded in existing Web content like blogs and social networking sites. The company’s goal seems at this stage to be about providing a more dynamic, 3-D way of interacting with other viewers of a particular site’s content.

Google is not alone in trying this idea of embedding virtual rooms in existing content. A start-up company called Vivaty also went live this week with a similar concept.

Virtual worlds or meta-verses like Second Life and Warcraft already have millions of users, but Google’s ability to transfer users in from its various other activities should see it take off. However, not to be outdone, the increasingly venerable Second Life company, Linden Labs, issued a press release to announce that for the first time ever a user’s avatar (character) had been transferred or ‘teleported’ from one virtual world to another, as a result of research work that the company has been undertaking with IBM. You can see a hilarious (although possibly not intentionally) video which breathlessly describes the world’s first-ever inter-VR world teleport as if it were the moon landings.

All in all, the 3-D Web, which we wrote about last July, seems to be coming along nicely. I shall begin work on embedding a restaurant room into this blog as soon as time permits.

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