Google Looks to One-Up Second Life
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The service, called "Lively," uses real-time virtual world characters known as avatars and three-dimensional graphics to congregate in virtual rooms.
Linden Lab's Second Life, launched five years ago, was the first online community with its own currency and growing economy. In addition to cultivating a sizable consumer user base, Second Life also has increasingly become a tool for enterprises looking to recruit or communicate with the public.
Google, thus far at least, appears to be focusing on the consumer and socializing aspects of the technology.
"If you enter a Lively room embedded on your favorite blog or Web site, you can immediately get a sense of the room creator's interests, just by looking at the furniture and environment they chose," Niniane Wang, the engineering manager who oversaw Lively's creation, said on Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) official blog.
Lively also allows for playing YouTube videos in virtual TVs and showing photos in virtual picture frames inside the rooms, Wang said.
Google worked closely with Arizona State University while developing the Web site in a project that had been widely rumored for some time.