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Second Life in a Browser

by admin on November 16th, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve had a reason to post and a lot has occurred since my last post including the departure, reemergence and second departure of the founder and CEO Phillip Rosedale. An unexpected price increase or more precisely the ending of non-profit discounts saw many educators scurrying for alternative virtual worlds.

But with all this upheaval Linden Lab continues rolling out new and exciting features that are now in beta including Mesh imports and most recently the ability to access SL via a browser. Browser access is made possible by streaming SL via Gakai’s cloud-rendering.

I tried it today and with a few exceptions it worked flawlessly, see the video below:

Why is this important? After all since I’ve first began using sl I’ve seen flexi prims, mega prims, sculptie prims, voice chat, mono, display names, shared media, mesh imports, and now browser access. In a word it’s (or hopefully will be) greater and easier access. Now when students need to use sl the learning curve should be greatly reduced. Just provide them a URL (perhaps even avatars to use) and they can gain immediate entrance to the learning platform you’ve designed. If a new version of the Second Life client comes out students and most importantly campus labs will not need to re-download or reimage their computers.  While we don’t know all the details yet, I expect this to also reduce some of the hardware barriers students sometimes face due to graphic card requirements.  If this turns out to be the case than even more students will be able to access content created for Second Life.  In fact Gakai’s website provides support for hoping this indeed will be the case:

Gaikai requires no special hardware or extra computing power. Rather, it can run premium 3D games on something as lightweight as a netbook or smartphone.

These are indeed exciting times for anyone interested in the benefits of virtual worlds.

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